Photo of the Day: Martian Sunset

posted: 05/11/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
NASA's Curiosity Rover Views Serene Sundown on Mars

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover had a glimpse of the setting sun on April 15. This marks the first time that Curiosity has observed a sunset in full color.

In much the same way that sunset on Earth is a brilliant display of reds, oranges and purples, sunset on Mars is a show of cool blue hues. The planet's signature rust red coloration is more prominent during daylight.

"The colors come from the fact that the very fine dust is the right size so that blue light penetrates the atmosphere slightly more efficiently," said Curiosity team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University. "When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the sun than light of other colors does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the sun."

This photo was taken between dust storms on Mars. There was still a large volume of dust suspended in the atmosphere, and researchers used the progression of the setting sun to determine the vertical distribution of dust throughout the atmosphere.

Click here for more from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Learn more about Mars:

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Colonizing Mars

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