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Curiosity Rover on Mars Captures Earth-like Clouds Hovering on the Red Planet

Video grab of clouds passing over Mars.
(Credit: Twitter)

Video grab of clouds passing over Mars. (Credit: Twitter)

A series of eight images that were taken by the navigation camera onboard Curiosity Rover shows about five minutes of time on Mars.

The Mars Science Laboratory Mission’s Curiosity Rover, which landed on the Red Planet in August 2012, had to determine whether the Red Planet ever was, or is, habitable to microbial life. The Curiosity Rover, which is about the size of a MINI Cooper car, is equipped with 17 cameras and a robotic arm and also includes a host of specialized laboratory-like tools and instruments. In its over eight-plus years on the Martian surface, the rover continues to try and understand the neighbouring planet.

According to an Independent report, a recent video shows an uncanny scene as clouds drift above the planet’s surface. The images were shot from cameras mounted on the Curiosity Rover. A series of eight images that were taken by the navigation camera onboard the robotic explorer shows about five minutes of time on Mars. The visuals show the clouds can be seen moving similar to those on Earth.

North Carolina State University scientist Paul Byrneshared the visuals on Twitter, which were shot last week by the Curiosity Rover. “Clouds in the sky, gently passing overhead,” Byrne wrote in his caption.

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In the following tweet, Byrne said that the images are a set of eight images taken by Mars Curiosity’s right navigation camera. ‘The rocky outcrop in the foreground is a seven-meter cliff’, nicknamed as ‘Mont Mercou,’ by the rover team, the caption further mentioned.

The report further mentioned that the clouds look like that of Earth, however, they are vastly different atmospheres on the Red Planet. Among other differences, its atmosphere is very thin, and they have to form in different ways.

It is common knowledge that to form clouds, water molecules have to condense around particles. Mars lacks a thick enough atmosphere to form them so easily. Nevertheless, on Mars, these are thought to be the result at least partly of dust that is created when space debris hits its atmosphere. Additionally, due to its thin atmosphere, the clouds on Mars are similar to cirrus clouds on Earth. Also, the clouds on Mars can also be ‘noctilucent’, which means they are lit up by the Sun even at night time due to being high up above the Martian surface.

first published:March 23, 2021, 21:25 IST