Washington : NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured a series of images of drifting clouds just before sunrise on the Red Planet. The atmosphere on Mars is usually thin, dry and cloudy days are rare.
And clouds are typically found at the planet’s equator in the coldest time of year, when Mars is the farthest from the Sun in its oval-shaped orbit. The six-wheeled rover used one of its navigation cameras to spot the images of drifting clouds on March 18, 2023, the 738th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, the mission officials said in a statement.
In February 2021, Perseverance landed with NASA’s tiny Ingenuity helicopter on the floor of the 28-mile-wide (45 km) Jezero Crater, which harboured a big lake and a river delta billions of years ago.
Scientists on both the Perseverance and Curiosity rover missions are studying the formation process of Martian clouds. In May 2021, Curiosity rover captured shining clouds on the Red Planet.
The images showed wispy puffs filled with ice crystals that scattered light from the setting Sun, some of them shimmering with colour. The rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam snapped colour images and the iridescent, or “mother of pearl” clouds on March 5, 2021, the 3,048th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
On March 31, the 3,075th sol or Martian day of the mission, the navigation cameras on the mast of Curiosity also captured black-and-white images: fine, rippling structures of the clouds, just after sunset.
Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.
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