The Curiosity robot was remembered to our fond memories! The rover, which has roamed the surface of Mars since the summer of 2012, has sent amazing photos of clouds in the atmosphere of the red planet.
Since their landing in February, Perseverance and the Ingenuity drone have captivated the eyes of the world. But we should not forget the valiant rover Curiosity, on site for more than eight years and which continues its mission for whatever reason … And which astonished scientists a few days ago.
Rare Martian clouds
The robot was indeed able to take pictures of clouds. On Mars, where the atmosphere is fine and humidity rare, this is not trivial! Usually, these clouds are found above the planet’s equator, during the coldest time of the Martian year (two Earth years), when the planet is furthest from the sun.
Photos of clouds taken by Curiosity, however, confirm that their appearance comes earlier than expected, which scientists had suspected for two years. They also learned that cloud formations occur at higher altitudes, where it is very, very cold. They could be composed of frozen carbon dioxide.
If the images allow to know more about the process of creation of clouds, they are also spectacular, quite simply! In particular the color photos taken by the Curiosity Mastcam. The robot was able to take a picture of an iridescent cloud, the separation of the ice crystals of which causes iridescence of light by diffraction.
Curiosity was also able to take images of nocturnal clouds, formations that light up as they fill with crystals. They darken as the sun passes below their altitude (and this is what allows scientists to determine their height).