Curiosity Captures Spectacular Martian Sunset

Image shows 'some of the most clearly visible images of sun rays we've ever seen on Mars'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2023 7:30 PM CST
Curiosity Captures Spectacular Martian Sunset
The rover captured this image of a Martian sunset early last month.   (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSS)

Martian sunsets can be on the gloomy side, but NASA's Curiosity rover captured a spectacular one last month. The rover's official account tweeted an image of the phenomenon this week, saying, "My team says these are some of the most clearly visible images of sun rays we've ever seen on Mars!" The sun rays illuminating a bank of clouds in the image "are also known as crepuscular rays, from the Latin word for 'twilight,'" NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said. "It was the first time sun rays have been so clearly viewed on Mars."

The rover, which has been on Mars for more than a decade, recently started a new mission observing the Martian skies, CNN reports. Curiosity is looking at cloud formation so "scientists can learn more about the Martian atmosphere’s composition and temperatures, and the winds within it," the JPL says. Most Martian clouds are made of water ice, but the rover has recently spotted high-altitude ones that appear to be made of carbon dioxide ice. (The rover captured a blue Martian sunset in 2015.)

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