NASA’s Curiosity rover captures dazzling sunset on Mars

Curiosity used its black-and-white navigation cameras to take the first photo of the sun's beams on Mars.
Kavita Verma
Feather-shaped iridescent cloud.
Feather-shaped iridescent cloud.

Mars has always been the epitome of interplanetary exploration as it can be a base for human to live. But before this can happen, researchers are exploring this uninhabitable world, and recently they have seen an unbelievable sight. 

On February 2, the NASA Curiosity rover witnessed a spectacular twilight show on Mars. As the sun set beyond its horizon, brilliant crepuscular rays fanned outward in all directions towards an atmospheric backdrop of mesmerizing clouds. This otherworldly phenomenon was captured for the first time since the human-made machine arrived on the Red planet - offering us a glimpse of something truly extraordinary.

Clouds could provide vital information about Mars' weather

As stated by NASA, with the assistance of its intrepid rover, Curiosity, scientists have been given a mysterious glimpse into Mars' twilight skies. 

These noctilucent clouds appear much higher than those normally seen on our neighboring planet. Their composition suggests they are made from dry ice - indicating temperatures far below that found nearer ground level. 

Investigating these night-shining formations could provide vital information about Martian weather patterns, helping us uncover details about atmospheric temperature range and winds that shape this distant world's unique climate.

Curiosity has been using its black-and-white navigation cameras and color Mast Camera to gain an up-close look at the Martian clouds. Starting in January 2021 and wrapping up by mid-March, this survey provides unique insight into how cloud particles grow over time.

On January 27, some clouds created a rainbowlike iridescent display - so beautiful that it could almost have looked like feathery wings.

Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist, added that when we witness iridescence, it usually means that the particle sizes of the clouds are similar to their neighboring ones. By exploring these color transitions, we see particle size changing. This depicts how the cloud evolves and how its particles change their sizes with time.

To conclude, Curiosity traversed the sun-soaked sky, capturing an expansive view of dancing clouds and dazzling rays. After stitching together 28 images from its journey, a picture was sent to Earth which seemed like it had been handcrafted with highlights that sparkled against the backdrop of skies.

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