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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Irridescent Clouds
Hugh Bollinger

Irridescent Clouds

Noctilucent clouds reflecting the Sun's rays (credit: Curiosity Rover/NASA)

The Curiosity rover on Mars has captured an iridescent cloud scene at sunset on the Red Planet.

According to NASA, the image was part of a campaign to study noctilucent clouds, often call "night-shining" clouds. Most clouds on Mars hover less than 40 miles above the ground and are made of water ice. These noctilucent clouds only appear at higher elevations, where it is extremely cold. They likely consist of carbon dioxide, ie. dry ice. Studying the iridescent colors provides details of the cloud particle sizes and how they develop over time.

This striking image is a composite of 28 individual captures by the rover's camera as the last of the Sun's rays reflected through them. A video provides further information on the ethereally beautiful clouds when seen on Earth. WHB

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