Connect with us


Odd, colorful clouds on Mars spotted by NASA’s Curiosity rover



(Planet Today) Wispy, colorful clouds could be seen hovering in the Martian sky in images released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on May 28. The images were taken by NASA’s curiosity rover from near the Martian equator and showed what are apparently seasonal features on Mars.

(Article by Virgilio Marin republished from

Clouds are typically found floating at the planet’s equator in the coldest time of the year when the Red Planet is farthest from the sun. But one Martian year ago (two Earth years), scientists noticed clouds forming over Curiosity earlier than they expected. So NASA instructed the rover this year to watch for “early” clouds.

Clouds did appear starting in late January. They were spread out in rippled and sometimes colorful patterns in the dry, thin atmosphere of Mars.

“I always marvel at the colors that show up – reds and greens and blues and purples,” said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist from the Space Science Institute in Colorado. “It’s really cool to see something shining with lots of color on Mars.”

Martian clouds are said to be at their prettiest just after sunset, when the last light makes the ice crystals glow against the darkening sky. This is why scientists call these twilight clouds “noctilucent,” or night-shining.

One of the noctilucent clouds in the images appears iridescent like mother-of-pearl. Lemon said that Martian clouds look this way when cloud particles are very similar sizes. This happens when clouds have just formed and have grown at the same speed.

Strangely, the clouds in the images appeared higher in the atmosphere than what scientists had seen before. NASA said that Martian clouds usually hover 37 miles above the surface and are made of water ice. But the clouds in images floated at an altitude higher than that, though NASA did not specify the exact altitude. This suggested that they were likely made of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) since it is colder higher up in the atmosphere.

NASA said it would know for sure which of the images showed water-ice clouds and which showed dry-ice ones once it collected enough data. In the meantime, the new images could help scientists understand how clouds form on Mars, which is a big mystery since the Red Planet has a very thin atmosphere.

Clouds on Mars form from icy dust from meteors

A 2019 study published in the journal Nature Geoscience found that meteors might play a big role in Martian cloud formation. Researchers explained that the wispy clouds in Mars’ middle atmosphere – which starts around 18 miles above the surface – formed largely from “meteoric smoke,” or icy dust created by space debris slamming into the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

“We’re used to thinking of Earth, Mars and other bodies as these really self-contained planets that determine their own climates. But climate isn’t independent of the surrounding solar system,” said NASA’s Victoria Hartwick, who started the study as a doctoral student at University of Colorado, Boulder.

Clouds need “seeds” to form, or particles around which water molecules could condense. On Earth, s particles include grains of sea salt or dust that get carried upward by the wind. As water molecules condense around these particles, cloud formations grow larger and heavier.

But it was unclear how that applies to clouds in the middle atmosphere of Mars since this region lacks those particles. Small meteors, however, burn up and shed fine dust when they slam into the planet’s atmosphere. This fine dust could serve as the needed seeds for clouds to form.

Indeed, when the researchers ran computer simulations to test this hypothesis, their models showed that clouds did not form in the middle atmosphere of Mars without meteoric dust. Conversely, clouds condensed when meteoric dust was included in the simulations.

In sum, the study showed that clouds on Mars form largely from icy dust left behind by small meteors burning up in the planet’s atmosphere.

Continue Reading


Alien space debris stuck in Earth’s orbit, researchers say




Recently, a group of experts from Harvard University, led by physics
professor Avi Loeb, announced the possible presence of alien space
debris in Earth’s orbit, reports the Daily Star.

space research expert Professor Loeb is confident that the discovery of
such “interstellar objects could help expand our knowledge of possible
alien civilizations and technologies. A team of scientists is conducting
research to confirm that some of the objects in our orbit may be
connected to other star systems.

During an interview with Live
Science, Professor Loeb explained that these objects could enter the
solar system from interstellar space, defying Jupiter’s gravitational
pull and occupying limited orbits around the sun.

Some of them may
have technological origins similar to the probes sent by mankind into
interstellar space, such as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11
and New Horizons.

despite these interesting assumptions, Professor Loeb did not specify
what specific objects he was talking about. In his research report, he
notes that there could be “a significant number” of potentially
detectable objects in Earth’s orbit.

To confirm their assumptions,
the team of scientists uses computer simulations and the Vera Rubin
Observatory (Chile) with a high-resolution camera of 3.2 billion pixels.
This will allow for regular observations of the Southern sky and the
possibility of detecting several captured objects about the size of a
football field.

It is assumed that these interstellar objects passed through the
boundaries of the solar system and may carry unique information about
other civilizations and their technologies. If we could confirm the
origin of these objects, the mysteries that open before us, this would
be a real breakthrough in space exploration.

Professor Loeb
expresses hope that the new research will not only help expand our
knowledge of extraterrestrial technologies, but may also lead to the
discovery of new alien civilizations . Answers to such questions can be
of global significance and influence our understanding of the place of
mankind in the Universe.

while there are still many questions and assumptions, the study by
Professor Loeb and his team opens a new chapter in space exploration.
Each new discovery can be the key to deciphering the mysteries of the
cosmos and the possibility of encountering alien life forms.

Continue Reading


Betelgeuse is acting strange again




Betelgeuse, a red giant on the brink of death, continues to show
unusual behavior. After the Great Blackout, which occurred in late 2019
and early 2020, the star became unusually bright. It is now the seventh
brightest star in the sky, while it normally ranks tenth. This has led
to speculation that Betelgeuse is preparing to explode in a
spectacularly large supernova.

However, scientists believe it’s too early to tell, and it’s likely
that this behavior is due to ongoing fluctuations after the Great
Blackout of 2019, and the star will return to normal within a decade.

Betelgeuse is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. It is
about 700 light-years from Earth and is a red giant in the last stage of
its life. It is also an unusual star for a red giant because it was
previously a monster blue-white O-type star, the most massive class of

Betelgeuse has changed its spectral type because it has almost
exhausted its hydrogen reserves. It now burns helium into carbon and
oxygen and has expanded to a gigantic size: about 764 times the size of
the Sun and about 16.5 to 19 times its mass.

Eventually it will run out of fuel to burn, become a supernova, eject
its outer material, and its core will collapse into a neutron star.

Before the Great Blackout, Betelgeuse also had periodic fluctuations
in brightness. The longest of these cycles is about 5.9 years and the
other is 400 days. But it seems that the Great Blackout caused changes
in these oscillations.

A new paper by astrophysicist Morgan McLeod of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has shown that the 400-day
cycle appears to have been halved. This pulsational cycle is probably
caused by expansion and contraction within the star. According to
simulations carried out by MacLeod and his colleagues, the convective
flow inside Betelgeuse may have risen and become material that separates
from the star.

Continue Reading


Generated by Feedzy