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NASA Insight beams back image of clouds on Mars
There's no sign of rain on the Martian surface.
NASA's Mars Insight lander has beamed back an image of Elysium Planitia showing drifting clouds at sunset on April 25. This could be a significant discovery indicating the possibility of life on the Red Planet. NASA, SpaceX, and China are poised at starting a colony on Mars in the next decade.
The clouds in the image are most likely water ice and are similar to ice fogs on Earth that usually don't precipitate. The thin and freezing atmosphere on Mars keeps the clouds from falling on the surface, keeping the planet dry and cold, reports CNET.
"This precipitation most likely takes the form of frost. The ground is likely to be colder than the air (especially on cold clear nights), and so air hitting the ground cools and the water freezes to the ground as frost. Viking II (a Mars lander in the 1970s) saw frost on the ground some mornings," NASA said in a statement.
The dust storms could be the reason behind the dry atmosphere, making it impossible for the planet to form ice clouds. "Many people have analyzed the nature of rainfall on the Earth, but no one had thought to apply the physics to understanding the early Martian atmosphere," said geologist Robert Craddock.
Besides, NASA released a new image of the Martian surface capturing a landslide. The image was taken in the Cerberus region of the planet, which is near the Elysium Mons volcano. The image shows the Cerberus Fossae.
These fissures are believed to be a result of the planet's crust tearing apart. Now, this area has become the home for active landslides, as shown in the image by bright blue boulders.
"Second, the dark think lines are recurring slope lineae, probably also due to mass wasting, but composed of finer-grained materials. This image was captured by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter," the space agency added.