The clouds that flow in the sky of Mars

After the postcards of blue sunsets and sunsets from Mars sent by NASA’s InSight mission, the extraordinary videos of the clouds moving in the Martian atmosphere, sent by the Curiosity rover, arrive. NASA’s robot lab has filmed the clouds with its Navcam navigation cameras on May 7 and May 12, 2019. In the images the filamentous clouds illuminated by the Sun, similar to the terrestrial cirrus clouds, which move in the sky of Mars driven by the wind. According to the American Space Agency they are probably clouds of water ice and are located about 31 kilometers from the surface.

Filming clouds for Curiosity is not a pastime between exploration and the other of the Gale crater, but an activity planned by researchers to study the dynamics of the atmosphere of Mars, especially after comparing Curiosity observations with those collected by the InSight lander which is about 600 kilometers away. This is because capturing the same clouds from two vantage points, for example, can help calculate their height.

Curiosity captured the images during a break from the drilling activity that engaged him a lot in May. Recently it has in fact drilled two rocks called ‘Aberlady’ and ‘Kilmarie’, collecting the greatest quantity of clay minerals ever found during the mission. The result shows that the region, located on one of the sides of Mount Sharp and called the Clay Unit, well deserved its name. The clay is formed in the presence of water and according to the researchers it is probable that the rocks in the area were formed in the mud layers of ancient lakes, where the water interacting with the sediments left an abundance of clay in the rocks.