A recent image taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover appears to show an impressive rainbow on Mars. The photograph has sparked massive speculation online, as scientific evidence shows that there should be no rainbows on Mars.
On Earth, rainbows appear when sunlight meets the right atmospheric conditions, in which the light hits and reflects off individual water droplets in the atmosphere.
However, given Mars’ cold, thin, and dry atmosphere, the image is unlikely to be of a real rainbow.
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Reddit users have speculated It could be a “dust arc”, and the reflections are caused by dust rather than water droplets.
More speculation about the site comes from a 2015 “Ask me anything” with NASA members of the team in which the chief scientist of NASA’s Mars Program Office, Rich Zurek, said it was possible that “ice arcs” could appear on Mars, because while there are no water droplets, it has been observed snow at the poles.
However, the most widely supported theory appears to be that the “rainbow” was caused by an artifact that caused the random entry and scattering of light rays within the lens, similar to a “lens flare” in a typical camera.
This was supported by Dave Lavery, the Executive of the Solar System Exploration program at NASA, who told Forbes, “It is definitely not a rainbow. … They are just internal reflections in the camera lens. ”
“The rover is almost north of the helicopter, so the camera is looking almost straight south around 2:00 pm local solar time on Mars when these images were taken,” he said, adding that those are the best conditions for stray light to interfere with a camera’s optics.
Whatever the cause, it sure is beautiful.
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