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NASA’s Curiosity rover captures strange shiny clouds on Mars!

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NASA recently released the mesmerizing photos of the Mars sky captured by the Curiosity rover. The rover captured the strange, shiny and colorful clouds in Martian sky. The image shared by NASA is a combination of 21 individual photographs that the rover took to study “a strange type of wispy cloud” over its Gale Crater home.

Reportedly, scientists had realized the appearance of the cloud over the rover two Earth years ago (one Mars year), which according to them was earlier than expected. This year, they were ready to capture and document these moments as they started appearing in January.

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The official Twitter handle of Curiosity Rover explained the phenomena via a thread of tweets. It wrote, “Cloudy days are rare here because the atmosphere is so thin and dry, but I’ve been keeping my cameras peeled and wanted to share some recent pictures with you.” The account also shared a GIF of clouds drifting over Mount Sharp, which was created by combining six different images.

As stated by the agency, these shiny clouds are composed of frozen carbon dioxide or dry ice. However, the scientists have also stated that they are not yet confident on the theory. The strange shiny color of the clouds appeared as the result of ice crystals filled in the clouds that “catch the fading light of the Sun, causing them to glow against the darkening sky”, stated Curiosity Rover via Twitter.

The scientists have called these clouds “noctilucent”, or night-shining, as they appear prettiest after the sunset, specifically as the last light hits them. The Curosity Rover tweeted, “These iridescent wisps are called “mother of pearl” clouds. The shimmery pastels result when the particles in the cloud are all nearly identical in size.”

Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Space Science Institute in Colorado, said in a NASA statement “I always marvel at the colors that show up: reds and greens and blues and purples. It’s really cool to see something shining with lots of color on Mars.”

The altitude of these clouds haven’t been specified by NASA, but according to the scientists, the clouds have appeared higher in the atmosphere of Mars than the clouds that are typically seen on any planet.

Mark Lemmon also told “some of these clouds even appear a bit iridescent when the cloud particles are very similar sizes. It typically happens when clouds have just formed and have grown at the same speed.” He also added that these clouds are among the more colorful things on the Red Planet.

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