NASA Says Mars Has A Substantial Atmosphere

( — A NASA rover on Mars has captured pictures of sunlight and clouds on the red planet. Curiosity, the rover that has been roaming the surface of Mars since 2012, has sent back photographs showing a sunset as well as clouds illuminated with tinges of green and pink. Atmospheric scientist Mark Lemmon said, “By looking at color transitions, we’re seeing particle size changing across the cloud. That tells us about the way the cloud is evolving and how its particles are changing size over time.”

The new images add to the collection of extraordinary pictures taken by curiosity in its decade on Mars. In 2021, it captured images of clouds moving rapidly over a mountain range known as Mount Sharp. NASA says these clouds, which were much higher than had previously been observed, first appeared over the mountain in January 2021.

Curiosity is around the size of a car and was launched from Cape Canaveral in August 2011. It landed on Mars in August 2012 after traveling 350 million miles. Its primary objective is to investigate the atmosphere and determine whether the Red Planet is capable of sustaining life, or if it ever has. The rover examines the air and its components, surface radiation, the evolution and history of the planet, and the geological materials of its surface.

The first images from Curiosity were received on earth on August 6th, 2012. Around 1,000 people gathered at Times Square in New York City to see the first transmission home. The team was then contacted by President Obama who congratulated them and said, “You guys are examples of American know-how and ingenuity. It’s really an amazing accomplishment.”

There are currently six rovers on Mars, five operated by the United States and one operated by China. The planet is the second smallest in our solar system. It has been the subject of study and exploration since the spacecraft Mariner 4 sent back the first pictures in 1964.

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