NASA is curious about Mars -- and we can't blame them.
Mars is a somewhat monotonous place; it is not that colorful. Throughout the entire planet, the area's sky, land, and overall atmosphere have an ongoing color scheme of reds and browns.
But in the early parts of 2021, the planet suddenly had a surprising set of breathtaking iridescent clouds -- and NASA's Curiosity Rover captured it beautifully.
The curious robot snapped multiple photos of the breathtaking Mars clouds, and successfully sent them back to Earth. The images exemplify soft, shimmering wisps entangled with the grey Martian skies, completely illuminating warm, bright light with help from the sun's reflection.
NASA Curiosity Rover's Discover
In a NASA statement, Mark Lemmon, one of NASA's atmospheric scientists at the Space Science Institution found in Boulder, Colorado, said that he always marveled about the colors of the sky; reds, greens, blues, and purples. He added that it amazed him to see the rare, colorful, and bright clouds on Mars.
Mars rarely gets any clouds because the planet does not contain that much water in its atmosphere, and the planet's air only has 1% density compared to the Earth's atmosphere, which makes colonizing it all the more difficult.
Clouds on Mars only occur near the planet's equator during the coldest season of its year.
This happens whenever Mars' orbit takes it further away from the sun. It is a phenomenon known as Aphelion, and it will happen next in July 2021.
What are the Clouds on Mars?
Business Insider stated that scientists now believe that the clouds on Mars are composed of frozen carbon dioxide, typically referred to as dry ice. Researchers came up with the conclusion soon after they successfully analyzed Curiosity Rover's images.
They were able to identify it with the help of how the sunset's light reflected off the crystals within the clouds, giving an excellent hint at how far from the ground the clouds were.
Curiosity also got the chance to capture several photos of "Mother of Pearl" clouds.
Curiosity Rover's Activities
Curiosity Rover is a technological marvel exploring Mars' crater near the equator with about 96 miles in width. As a result, it gets to witness rare moments such as the appearance of clouds on Mars as the planet slowly approached Aphelion.
According to Business Insider, two Earth years ago, roughly equating to one Martian year, similar iridescent clouds showed up a few months earlier than scientists predicted.
With this lapse, NASA came more prepared this year. Starting in January 2021, NASA Curiosity Rover was already ready to take photos as soon as the early clouds returned to Mars. The beautiful clouds on Mars continued to sway over Curiosity throughout March.
Whenever Curiosity is not running around looking for skies to take photos of, the tech marvel is mainly preoccupied with studying the ground of Mars. Curiosity first landed in Mars' Gale Crater back in 2012.
During Curiosity Rover's first two years on the planet, it found out the Gale Crater used to be a lake filled with various chemicals.
In no time, Curiosity Rover got a new order from NASA: to climb the 3-mile worth of mountain located at the crater's center known as Mount Sharp.
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Written by Fran Sanders