Watching sunsets is always a spectacle on Earth. While the sunset on Earth is normally yellowish-orange in color, the sunset on the Red Planet is blue.
NASA launched the Curiosity rover on November 26, 2011, and it landed on the Martian surface on August 6, 2012. The rover has been exploring the Martian surface since then, and it has also transmitted some great pictures of the Red Planet.
With the help of the Mast Camera (Mastcam), Curiosity has captured how sunset looks on Mars. NASA reveals that the sunset capturing was done on April 15 of this year between dust storms. NASA let on that some dust particles remained in the atmosphere, which made the sunset look blue. While the sunset on Mars is quite a marvel, it will also help scientists to understand vertical dust distribution in the Martian atmosphere.
Mark Lemmon, a Curiosity science team member who planned the sunset observations, explained that the blue color of the sunset arose due to the fact that the dust particles were the right size to enable blue light to penetrate through Mars' atmosphere more efficiently in comparison with other light colors.
"When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the sun than light of other colors does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the sun," says Lemmon.
Curiosity took four images of the sunset in a sequence that was taken from the Gale crater within six minutes and 51 seconds. NASA revealed that the latest sunset captured by the Curiosity rover was the first observed by the rover in color.
Mars has been referred as the Red Planet due to the presence of iron oxide present on its surface, which gives it a reddish tint. While now Curiosity has captured the blue sunset on the planet, previous reports revealed that the rover drilled soil that was actually blue or gray in color.
The Curiosity was initially a two-year mission; however, the mission has been extended indefinitely. The rover has already made significant discoveries about the Red Planet, and scientists hope that it will continue to make noteworthy findings in the near term.
Check out a time lapse of the blue sunset on Mars.