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Noctilucent clouds on Mars spotted by Mars Perseverance

Noctilucent clouds on Mars: In a dark sky, a greenish light on the horizon and tendrils of high, light-colored clouds on the right.
Mars has noctilucent, or night-shining, clouds, just like Earth. The Mars Perseverance rover captured this image of noctilucent clouds on Mars on March 18, 2023. Image via NASA.

The Mars Perseverance rover has been exploring Mars since it landed in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. In fact, Perseverance sends back raw images that the public can pore through, and Mars fans often share the cool images they’ve found online. The newest hot Martian image making the rounds on social media is of noctilucent clouds. On March 18, 2023, Perseverance captured some wonderful images of these eerie night-shining clouds. Noctilucent clouds appear well after the sun has set for a viewer on the ground. But the sun’s rays can still reach and illuminate particles high in the upper atmosphere, allowing these elusive, glowing clouds to be seen.

Planetary scientist Paul Byrne of Washington University shared this short timelapse of Perseverance’s images to show the clouds moving through Mars’ skies.

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Night-shining clouds on Earth

Earth also has noctilucent clouds. They appear to observers in higher latitudes during warmer months. So, in the Northern Hemisphere, you can look for these clouds from around May through August, and from November through February in the Southern Hemisphere.

Check out this great tweet by Stuart Atkinson comparing noctilucent clouds on Earth with their counterpart on Mars.

Noctilucent clouds on Mars

By the way, this is not the first time a rover has spotted noctilucent clouds on Mars. In 2019, the Mars Curiosity rover also spotted night-shining clouds.

Want a wallpaper of this beautiful image for your phone? NASA engineer Kevin M. Gill has you covered:

Bottom line: The Perseverance rover took this image of noctilucent clouds on Mars on March 18, 2023. What’s more, these night-shining clouds also appear on Earth.

March 21, 2023
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