Clouds drifting above a rocky surface can easily be spotted at scores of places on Earth. But this latest video is not from Earth.
Nasa’s Mars rover Curiosity has shared a glimpse of the red planet’s atmosphere. The video, made up of eight images taken over the span of five minutes on Friday, March 19, shows clouds drifting in the Mars sky.
Clouds in the sky, gently passing overhead.
On Mars, Friday, March 19, 2021.
Prof. Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) March 20, 2021
The rocky outcrop in the foreground is an approximately seven metre-tall cliff of layered sediments nicknamed by the rover team as “Mont Mercou”.
The video was shared by Paul Byrne, a scientist at North Carolina State University.
Also read | Successful test for Nasa’s giant rocket preparing to return to Moon: Watch video
The moving clouds may look like the ones we have on Earth, but they are vastly different. The atmosphere on the red planet is very thin and it makes it difficult for clouds to form in the way they do on Earth.
To form clouds, water molecules have to condense around particles. On Earth, that can be grains of dust that are carried up by winds, but Mars does not have a thick enough atmosphere to form them so easily.
On Mars, these are thought to be the result at least partly of dust that is created when space debris hits the Martian atmosphere. That creates the particles around which the clouds can form, and then seen as they move across the surface.
Also read | Perseverance rover captures sound of driving on Mars, Nasa releases audio clip
Clouds are not the only Earth-like weather feature on Mars. In 2008, the Phoenix lander found that snow was falling on the surface.
But while that snow looks similar to our own in images, it is made up of carbon dioxide like dry ice.
Also read | Mars may be hiding most of its ‘missing’ water underground: Nasa-funded study

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