At NASA, we like to share always very impressive images. They allow us to see the progress of our technical and scientific knowledge outside our terrestrial home and are a nice showcase for the US agency.
Recently, NASA gave us images coming directly from Mars. While Perseverance has been the star of the Red Planet for a few months, the previous star Curiosity continues to make its sensors talk. Thus, last March, in the middle of winter on Earth as in our neighbor, the rover was able to witness a rather unusual meteorological phenomenon on Mars: noctilucent clouds (from the Latin “which shines in the night”).
These are clouds that appear to be made up of bright filaments, formed high up in the Martian atmosphere and made up of frozen carbon dioxide. They are among the most colorful things you can see on Mars, which usually offers only shades of ocher.
Animation based on images from Curiosity. © Nasa / JPL-Caltech
In broad daylight, it would be difficult to observe noctilucent clouds, but as soon as the light fades, the remaining rays of the Sun are filtered by the clouds and provide unique images. As is often the case with Curiosity, the photos were captured using MastCam cameras. As a reminder, these are two 2 Mpx cameras installed under the head of Curiosity, which allow it to create panoramas using two 34 and 100 mm lenses (in 24×36 equivalent).