June 19, 2024

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover: Cloudy Sols Are Here Again

We frequently take Navcam images and motion pictures to study the timing, motion, and morphology of clouds above Jezero crater. When there are lots of clouds around, we likewise take Mastcam-Z images (which include more spectral info) for more information about the makeup of these clouds, such as the typical particle size. We also monitor clouds utilizing Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) sensing units. MEDAs Radiation and Dust Sensor (RDS) determines inbound solar radiation at different wavelengths and can spot when clouds are blocking or scattering a few of the sunshine reaching the sensors. MEDAs Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) determines thermal radiation from the sky and from the surface and can likewise offer info on clouds. For instance, if clouds exist around sunset, the surface temperature falls more gradually than normal after the Sun goes down, because even these thin clouds emit enough down thermal radiation to continue warming the surface area. Finally, MEDAs upward-pointing Skycam camera takes images looking for clouds daily.
We anticipate it to get progressively cloudy as we approach and go into the cloudy season, so we will be on the lookout for interesting cloud activity in our observations. Well definitely be watching for halos again when we reach the very same time this Mars years, which will be around the end of October.
Written by Priya Patel (UCL, JPL), Leslie Tamppari (JPL), Claire Newman (Aeolis Research), and Mark Lemmon (SSI).

Mars clouds are really much like Earths cirrus clouds however thinner. While Earth clouds can consist of liquid water, the low temperature levels and pressures on Mars just enable for water-ice (and CO2 ice) clouds to form. In spite of being thin, these clouds still have an impact on heating and cooling of the contemporary environment, and in the past clouds might have played a much bigger role in sustaining a warmer environment that enabled liquid water to flow on the surface area of Mars.
When there are lots of clouds around, we also take Mastcam-Z images (which contain more spectral details) to learn more about the makeup of these clouds, such as the typical particle size. If clouds are present around sunset, the surface temperature falls more gradually than typical after the Sun goes down, due to the fact that even these thin clouds give off enough downward thermal radiation to continue warming the surface.

This illustration depicts NASAs Perseverance rover operating on the surface area of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Mars clouds are very much like Earths cirrus clouds but thinner. While Earth clouds can consist of liquid water, the low temperature levels and pressures on Mars only permit water-ice (and CO2 ice) clouds to form. These water-ice clouds are optically thin since of the low amounts of water present in the Martian atmosphere; if all the water were on the surface area, it would make a layer thinner than a single strand of hair.
Studying clouds helps us to comprehend the atmosphere and how the water cycle works on Mars today, such as how water vapor is carried by the climatic circulation and how temperature levels and water abundances differ with height. By observing the movement of clouds, we can likewise find out about wind speeds and instructions high in the atmosphere, which we have no chance of measuring otherwise. Despite being thin, these clouds still have an impact on cooling and heating of the contemporary atmosphere, and in the past clouds might have played a much larger role in sustaining a warmer environment that enabled liquid water to stream on the surface area of Mars.
Mars Perseverance Sol 691– Left Navigation Camera: This image was taken just before dawn, pointing east. NASAs Mars Perseverance rover got this image using its onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam).
There are seasonal patterns to Martian clouds. For a couple of months around northern summer solstice, orbital spacecraft observe a great deal of cloud activity in between ~ 10 ° south and 30 ° north latitude. Since Perseverance is checking out Jezero crater, which lies at about 18 ° north, were in an excellent place to observe these clouds from the surface area! Were currently over a month prior to the nominal start of this cloudy season, however are currently starting to see more cloud activity. The image revealed was taken by the rovers Navigation electronic camera (Navcam) on sol 691 of the mission, soon prior to dawn looking to the east, and shows thin cloud layers illuminated by the increasing Sun.