NASA 인내 로버

이 그림은 화성 표면에서 작동하는 NASA의 Perseverance 로버를 묘사합니다. 출처: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars Perseverance Sol 691

Mars Perseverance Sol 691 – Left Navigation Camera: This image was taken just before sunrise, pointing east. NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam). The camera is located high on the rover’s mast and aids in driving. This image was acquired on January 29, 2023 (Sol 691) at the local mean solar time of 06:14:49. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

There are seasonal patterns to Martian clouds. For a few months around northern summer solstice, orbital spacecraft observe a lot of cloud activity between ~10° south and 30° north latitude. Because Perseverance is exploring Jezero crater, which is located at about 18° north, we’re in a great place to observe these clouds from the surface! We’re currently over a month before the nominal start of this cloudy season, but are already starting to see more cloud activity. The image shown was taken by the rover’s Navigation camera (Navcam) on sol 691 of the mission, shortly before sunrise looking to the east, and shows thin cloud layers illuminated by the rising Sun.

We regularly take Navcam images and movies to study the timing, motion, and morphology of clouds above Jezero crater. When there are lots of clouds around, we also take Mastcam-Z images (which contain more spectral information) to learn more about the makeup of these clouds, such as the average particle size. We also monitor clouds using Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) sensors. MEDA’s Radiation and Dust Sensor (RDS) measures incoming solar radiation at different wavelengths and can detect when clouds are blocking or scattering some of the sunlight reaching the sensors. MEDA’s Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) measures thermal radiation from the sky and from the surface and can also provide information on clouds. For example, if clouds are present around sunset, the surface temperature falls more slowly than usual after the Sun goes down, because even these thin clouds emit enough downward thermal radiation to continue warming the surface. Finally, MEDA’s upward-pointing Skycam camera takes images looking for clouds on a daily basis.

We expect it to get increasingly cloudy as we approach and enter the cloudy season, so we will be on the lookout for interesting cloud activity in our observations. Near the end of last year’s cloudy season, we saw something that had never previously been found beyond Earth: a halo around the Sun, which lasted for several hours. Halos are caused by light being refracted and reflected by big ice crystals, which can form only when there is a large enough concentration of water vapor. We’ll certainly be watching for halos again when we reach the same time this Mars years, which will be around the end of October.