Photo of the Day: This is What a Sunset Looks Like on Mars

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In case you were curious, here is what an alien sees before he/she/it goes to sleep.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured the above image on April 15, and it’s being described as the first sunset observed in color by the spacecraft.

The photos were taken last month, but they were just sent back to Earth last week.

While Mars may appear red, the sunset is actually blue, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains why this is possible:

Dust in the Martian atmosphere has fine particles that permit blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than longer-wavelength colors. That causes the blue colors in the mixed light coming from the sun to stay closer to sun’s part of the sky, compared to the wider scattering of yellow and red colors. The effect is most pronounced near sunset, when light from the sun passes through a longer path in the atmosphere than it does at mid-day.

Curiosity first landed on Mars’s Gale Crater in August 2012 with a mission of determining whether or not Mars is or ever was habitable by life forms.

Here’s an animated GIF of the sunset, which uses a series of photos takes over a period of about 6 minutes, 51 seconds. The sight apprently inspired the rover to recite some lines from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” on its Twitter account.



Space News of the Day: NASA Launches Orion to Kick Off ‘Day One of the Mars Era’

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NASA successfully launched its unmanned Orion spacecraft on Friday, the first step in a new era of deep space exploration which could one day lead to humans on Mars.

This 4.5-hour long test marks the furthest a ship built for humans has gone since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 - 15 times as far as the International Space Station into deep space.

It will make two orbits around the earth before soaring back down to Earth to test its heat shields and parachutes.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. has dubbed this "Day One of the Mars era," which will be followed by an attempt to capture an asteroid in the 2020s, and the ultimate goal of eventually reaching Mars in the 2030s.

Where this little guy will be waiting for us…

Milestone of the Day: Curiosity Celebrates One Year on Mars!

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To commemorate the first anniversary of Curiosity's landing on Mars, NASA takes a look back at the rover's twelve months of expedition so far in this video footage filmed from the rover's eye view.

Mars Rover Finds Traces of Complex Chemicals But No Definitive Sign of Organic Life

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NASA finally revealed the findings of Mars Curiosity today, announcing that the rover had discovered chemical compounds known as perchlorate, as well as water, sulfur and chlorine-containing substances in a Martian soil sample. The news came amidst heavy anticipations and rumored speculations that the rover had found signs of organic life, which was debunked earlier by the U.S. space agency as not true shortly before the announcement today. However, the scientists continued to take a careful approach to their findings by adding that the result won't be deemed conclusive until all possibilities of earthly contaminants in the sampled soil have been ruled out.

Space Shot of the Day

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Today's space shot comes from the recently updated version of Google Earth's Mars exploration add-on, which features hi-def resolution images of the Red Planet's surface (20 feet per pixel) captured by the Context Camera (CTX) onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Start exploring today by downloading Google Earth!



Space Shot of the Day is a feature series following the latest developments in planetary science, astrophotography, space exploration, future plans for colonization and all things related to outer space.

Space Shot of the Day

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This is a false-color composite image of Valles Marineris, Planet Mars' very own Grand Canyon, captured by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) aboard ESA's Mars Express spacecraft. Stretching across the Martian highlands for 2,485 miles (4,000 kilometers) in length, 124 miles wide and up to 6.8 miles deep, Valles Marineris is considered one of the largest known canyon systems in the solar system.



Space Shot of the Day is a feature series following the latest developments in planetary science, astrophotography, space exploration, future plans for colonization and all things related to outer space.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work of the Day

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The lonely Curiosity rover is poised to get a companion on Mars in September 2016 -- so long as NASA's next mission, InSight, goes as planned.

Where Curiosity has been tasked with exploring the surface of Mars, a second rover is needed to probe its innards.

"We're really clueless about the interior," said NASA director of Planetary Science Jim Green.

And by 2016, us earthlings will be more than ready for a little Red Planet romance.

[themarysue]