NASA’s Curiosity rover has managed to capture a literally otherworldly sunset on Mars, three years after the rover began its mission to explore the mysterious Red Planet.
The rover took photos of a beautiful Mars blue sunset and made them public last week.
Explaining why a sunset is blue on Mars, scientists said that this happens because of the huge quantity of dust there is on the planet.
Mark Lemmon, one of the members of the Curiosity team and a scientist at Texas A&M University, explained that the colors of the Mars blue sunset are due to very fine dust particles that allows for blue light to penetrate the atmosphere in a more efficient way.
Lemmon added that when the dust particles are scattered by the blue light, they remain closer to the direction of the sun, compared to the light that belongs to other colors.
According to Lemmon, the rest of the sky can range between orange and yellow hues, mainly because red and yellow lights are scattered all over the sky, instead of staying close to the sun or being absorbed by it.
The beautiful Mars blue sunset inspired the Curiosity rover team to quote poet T.S. Eliot on the rover’s official Twitter account:
“”Let us go then, you and I
When the evening is spread out against the sky”
The intensity of the Mars sunset’s blue light is given by the same principles responsible for a spectacular sunset from our planet, except the colors differ.
NASA scientists explain that the light we see coming from a setting sun must pass through the atmosphere and has to be on a longer path, compared to what it is during mid-day.
Although the blue colors of the Mars sunset captured in photos are close enough, they are not exactly the same to what a human would see if actually seeing it happening.
According to NASA, the MastCam lens used to take the photos are a little less sensitive to the blue colors, compared to the human eye.
NASA sent the photographs on Earth on April 15 and according to the astronomers, the position of the rover was in the Gale Crater.
The photos sent to earth by Curiosity’s MastCam were originally in black in white but contained special coded data that, when decoded, it revealed the colors of the images.
This is not the first time NASA manages to take photos of a Mars sunset. It was captured by the Opportunity rover in 2010.
Image Source: howitworksdaily