- The Curiosity Rover which was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) and dropped via rocket on the planet Mars has captured images of shining clouds on the planet.
- The science team is studying in the clouds, which arrived earlier and formed higher than expected, to learn more about the Red planet.
- Cloudy days are rare in the thin, dry atmosphere of mars.
- 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.
- But one full Martian year ago-two years – scientists noticed clouds forming over NASA’s curiosity rover earlier than expected.
- This year, they were ready to start documenting these “early” clouds from the moment they first appeared in late January.
- More than just spectacular displays, such images help scientists understand how clouds from on Mars and why these recent ones are different.
- These clouds are among the more colourful things on the Red planet.
- The fine, ripping structures of these clouds are easier to see with images from Curiosity’s black and white navigation cameras.
- But it’s the colour images from the rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam, that really shine literally.
- Viewed just after sunset, their ice crystals catch the fading light, causing them to appear to glow against the darkening sky.
- These twilight clouds, also known as “noctilucent” (Latin for “night shining”) clouds, grow brighter as they fill with crystals, then darken after the sun’s position in the sky drops below their altitude.
About the Clouds:
- Researchers are now studying about the clouds which had arrived earlier and formed in a higher location than was expected.
- According to NASA cloudy days are very rare in the thin and dry atmosphere of the planet Mars.
- Generally, on the planet the clouds are formed at the equator of planet, during the coldest time of the year.This denotes that clouds are formed only when the planet is farthest from the sun in the oval-shaped orbit it follows.
- Curiosity is a Mars rover that is the size of a car and was developed to explore the gale crater on the planet which is a part of the NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory(MSL)mission.
- This rover was launched from Cape Canaveral in the month of November in the year 2011.
- The rover landed on the Gale crater located on the Aeolis palus region on the planet in the month of August in the year 2012.
- The rover was launched into the planets crater to study the geology and climate of the planet.
- Its primary task is to investigate the role of water on the planet and conduct habitability studies on Mars.
- The rover is also assessing whether the selected field site inside the Gale crater had ever supported environmental conditions to support microbial life.