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Emily LakdawallaAugust 21, 2008

Watching the clouds drift by

Last week in my "what's up" roundup I noted that that in the previous week's Mars weather update the MARCI camera team on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had reported more water-ice clouds appearing in the equatorial regions of Mars, that is, in the skies of the rovers. It seems that the rover team noticed the news too, because Opportunity looked up to watch those clouds drift overhead:

Clouds drift over Opportunity

NASA / JPL / Cornell / Tman

Clouds drift over Opportunity
Periodically, Opportunity gazes skyward to watch water-ice clouds drifting overhead, as in this four-image sequence , spanning about 90 seconds, from sol 1,614. There have not been many clouds to look at until recently, but Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's MARCI camera has lately noticed more water-ice clouds over the rovers' equatorial positions.
Actually I am quite sure that the rover team receives regular updates from the MARCI team on what Mars' weather has in store -- that's one of the reasons MARCI is up there, after all!

When you next go outside, look up. Are there clouds in your sky? Do they move quickly or slowly? Are they puffy, white, and full of water, or do they look like the clouds over Opportunity -- wispy and dry with ice crystals? Spend a moment looking at your clouds, and wondering what it would be like to watch them from the surface of an alien world.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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Emily Lakdwalla
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