robot Curiosity of from NASA, Who is on a scientific mission in MarsI managed to shoot a number of unusual and colorful pictures Iridescent clouds On the red planet. These images are key to the scientific community when it comes to understanding the process of Martian cloud formation.
Because Mars has a thin, dry atmosphere, its clouds tend to appear in the sky above the Martian equator when the planet is cold and further away from the sun in its elliptical orbit, which It happens every two years on Earth.
However, the Curiosity spacecraft was able to detect a series of clouds that arrived earlier and formed higher than expected in the atmosphere about a year and a half ago on Earth.
Faced with this situation, the team of scientists driving Curiosity from Earth sent instructions to the rover to search for the first clouds at the end of January. Thanks to this maneuver, On March 19, Curiosity captured soft clouds filled with ice crystals, which appeared to glow as they dissipated sunlight.
While these clouds that came earlier than expected are known to form at a higher and cooler altitude, and so are mainly composed of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide), the reasons behind this phenomenon are still unknown.
“If you see a cloud with a bunch of shimmering pastel colors, it’s because the particles in the cloud are nearly identical in size. This usually happens right after the clouds form and they’ve all grown at the same rate,” said Mark Lemon, an atmospheric scientist at the Institute of Space Sciences in Boulder, Colorado. .
“I always marvel at the colors that appear: red, green, blue, and purple. It’s really cool to see something glowing with so much color on the surface of Mars.”