NASA's Curiosity rover has taken a photo of a dazzling sunset on the Red Planet that shows the sun's rays shining through a group of clouds, illuminating them with hues of green and pink as the sun sets on Mars. According to NASA, this is the first time the rays of sunlight have been seen so clearly on Mars.
Clouds give a deeper insight into the planet's weather conditions. Scientists can use information about them to learn more about the composition and temperature of the Martian atmosphere.
The 2021 cloud-imaging survey also included images taken by Curiosity's black-and-white navigation cameras, giving astronomers a detailed view of the structure of those clouds as they moved on Mars. The new survey, which began in January and will be completed in mid-March, uses the rover's color camera to watch as cloud particles grow.
Martian clouds are mostly made of frozen ice and float about 60 kilometers above the ground. However, in this new image, the clouds reach an unusually higher altitude. NASA suggests these clouds are probably made of carbon dioxide ice, also known as dry ice.
The rover was launched from Cape Canaveral, USA, on November 26, 2011, and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012.