The Curiosity rover took impressive pictures of twilight rays on Mars (photo)

Ihor Romanko

The Curiosity rover took impressive pictures of twilight rays on Mars (photo)

For the first time, the Curiosity rover has recorded sunlight on Mars breaking through the clouds. This phenomenon is called the twilight rays, which have so far been observed only on Earth. The new images will help us better understand the weather on Mars. The photos were published on the NASA website.

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NASA's Curiosity rover captured these ''sunbeams'' shining through the clouds at sunset on February 2, 2023, the 3730th Martian day

What are the twilight rays?

Clouds can tell us a lot about the weather, the composition and temperature of the atmosphere, and the winds that blow on the Red Planet, just as they do on Earth. However, Mars' dry and thin atmosphere is not conducive to cloud formation. So the new photos are a rarity that researchers have been waiting for.

The new panoramic photo shows the twilight rays, a familiar phenomenon on Earth. These are the rays of sunlight that break through the clouds or leaves of trees on Earth at sunset. On Mars, the light breaks through clouds of frozen carbon dioxide that are more than 60 kilometres high.

In addition to the twilight rays, the rover also saw the phenomenon of cloud iridescence - sunlight was refracted and scattered through the ice floes in them so that it seemed as if the clouds were coloured. NASA specialists have assembled each of the panoramas from 28 separate images that Curiosity took with its Mastcam camera.

This feather-shaped rainbow cloud was captured just after sunset on January 27, 2023, the 3724th Martian day, or sol, of the Curiosity mission

Earlier, NASA showed a picture of mysterious sediments in craters on Mars, taken by the HiRise instrument of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

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