NASA’s NASA Aeronautics and Space Administration has shared some interesting cloud photos taken by the Curiosity rover.
Cloudy days are rare in the thin, dry atmosphere of Mars. Clouds are usually found at the planet’s equator during the coldest time of the year, when Mars is farthest from the Sun.
But one full Martian year ago – two Earth years – scientists noticed clouds forming over the Curiosity rover – earlier than expected.
This year, scientists have prepared to document these “early” clouds since their first appearance in late January. As a result, images of thin clouds filled with ice crystals were obtained, which scattered the light of the setting sun, some of which shimmered. These images help scientists understand how clouds form on Mars.
In fact, the Curiosity team has already made one new discovery: these “early” clouds are actually at a higher height than usual. Most of the Martian clouds hover at a height of no more than 60 kilometers and are composed of water ice.
But the clouds that Curiosity captured are at a higher height. This indicates that they are likely formed from frozen carbon dioxide or dry ice. Scientists are now looking for clues to determine the height of the clouds, and they will need additional analysis to pinpoint exactly which of the recent Curiosity images show clouds of water ice and which are of dry ice.