NASA’s Curiosity rover recently witnessed a rare event on Mars: a cloudy day. The agency has shared images of “shining” clouds (produced by reflective ice crystals) beginning to appear on the Curiosity site starting in late January. They will be the pedestrians of the world. But they stand out for planets with very thin atmospheres and have also led to their own discovery.
The mission team determined that these clouds were higher than normal for Mars. which floats above an altitude of 37 miles for the planet’s icy ice cloud. That raises the possibility that dry ice clouds are formed from icy carbon dioxide. and may reveal more about the Martian sky.
NASA notes that clouds are easiest to see with Curiosity’s black and white guiding cameras, but color pole cameras show shadows best.
This might not be the most dramatic event on Mars right now, however, it serves as another reminder that planets are not a static set of images. Mars is a dynamic world with ever-changing climates. Although not as lively as in the distant past.
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