NASA image shows a striking Martian sunset

NASA Image Shows A Striking Martian Sunset

An old image of a Martian sunset has been making the rounds recently.

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Captured on May 19, 2005, by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, the striking panoramic view shows the sun as it dips underneath the Gusev Crater.

The image is actually a mosaic of photographs taken sometime shortly after 6:00 p.m. during Spirit's 489th Martian day spent roving the Red Planet's surface.

Aside from the obvious location difference, the Martian sunset distinguishes itself from our own.

On Earth, the sun appears more red due to the scattering of blue light as it passes through our atmosphere.

To explain the differences, NASA notes, "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."

See images of Mars' moons:

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NASA image shows a striking Martian sunset
March 23, 2008 - NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took two images of the larger of Mars' two moons, Phobos, within 10 minutes of each other on March 23, 2008. This is the second, taken from a distance of about 5,800 kilometers (about 3,600 miles). It is presented in color by combining data from the camera's blue-green, red, and near-infrared channels. The illuminated part of Phobos seen in the images is about 21 kilometers (13 miles) across. The most prominent feature in the images is the large crater Stickney in the lower right. With a diameter of 9 kilometers (5.6 miles), it is the largest feature on Phobos. The color data accentuate details not apparent in black-and-white images. For example, materials near the rim of Stickney appear bluer than the rest of Phobos. Based on analogy with materials on our own moon, this could mean this surface is fresher, and therefore younger, than other parts of Phobos. A series of troughs and crater chains is obvious on other parts of the moon.

Deimos, the Littlest Moon

(Photo: sjrankin/Flickr)

The command module, now free of the larger Phobos mission rocket, begins a close approach to Phobos. With an average diameter of less than 12 miles, irregularly shaped Phobos has a very weak gravitational field making it relatively easy for the command module to come very close without being drawn all the way to its surface. The goal is to come close enough to permit space suited astrogeologists equipped with personal manned maneuvering units (MMUs) to act as mini spaceships themselves and descend to the surface. On the surface of Mars to the right can be seen Elysium Planitia and the volcano Albor Tholus.

(Photo: Stocktrek)

An artwork of the terrestrial planet Mars set against the backdrop of the Milky Way. Mars's two moons, Phobos and Deimos, are seen passing in front. In this view of Mars we can see Valles Marineris in the middle - a vast chasm compared to which the US's Grand Canyon is little but a scratch. While off to the left we can see the Tharsis rise with its four giant volcanoes, the largest of which (Olympus Mons) is the most massive volcano in the known Solar System.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Phobos seen by Mars Express

(Photo: ESA/Flickr

This panel illustrates the transit of the martian moon Phobos across the Sun. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

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