NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover has spotted an amazing solar halo in the skies over Mars. The phenomenon was considered impossible by the scientists. View the details here.
Have you heard of Sun Halo? Several copies of Sun Halo have been seen and recorded by people living in different parts of the Earth. Amazingly, NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover has done the impossible and captured a solar halo on Mars. It is said to be a never-before-seen phenomenon observed on planet Mars. This is truly a historic achievement, as even scientists had lost hope of ever seeing such an incident happen on Mars, but only until December 15, 2021. It may be known that the solar halo as seen on Earth is a natural phenomenon in which ice crystals surround the sun in a ring pattern.
Information that Sun Halo has been spotted on Mars by Perseverance Rover has been communicated to Space.com by a planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute. “Perseverance really surprised us with some of the images we got in December,” said scientist Mark Lemmon, as quoted by Space.com.
“I’ve been working on this for a long time and we’ve searched for halos everywhere and in many images,” he added. “I looked at it and I thought, ‘I’m going to have a hard time finding an explanation for this.’ Because everything has been a false alarm, and that looks so much like a halo that I thought it would be a lot of work to figure out what was really going on.”
Know what Sun Halo is
A Sun Halo is created by randomly oriented ice crystals in thin tall cirrus clouds, according to NASA. These ice crystals refract, scatter and reflect the light to create the impression of a circular rainbow ring. According to the University of Illinois, “The halo is a ring of light located 22 degrees from the sun or moon and is the most common type of halo observed and formed by hexagonal ice crystals less than 20.5 micrometers in diameter.” Also, the hexagonal structure of water ice crystals determines the size of the halo, at 22 degrees from the sun, or about the width of two fists held at arm’s length, Space.com informed.
But is the Sun Halo the same on Earth and Mars? There is a huge difference in Earth’s atmosphere and Mars’ atmosphere. Mars’ atmosphere contains more carbon dioxide than Earth’s atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is even more than the amount of water present in the atmosphere of Mars. Because of this atmospheric difference, Lemmon and his colleagues checked whether the image was really a solar halo or whether it was the Perseverance camera that created the bright ring.
“We’ve got a lot of pictures that show you what kind of characteristics you get from dust in the air, and we’re sure you’ll never get a halo from that,” Lemmon told space.com. “There were really no other candidates,” he added.
About NASA’s Tech Marvel, the Perseverance Rover
Launched on July 30, 2020, the Mars Perseverance Rover is looking for signs of ancient microbial life, which will aid NASA’s search for past habitability of Mars. Perseverance will also test technologies to pave the way for future human exploration of Mars, NASA informed. Strapped to the rover’s belly for the journey to Mars is a technology demonstration – the Mars helicopter.