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Mesospheric Cloud Above the Argyre Basin
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Mesospheric Cloud Above the Argyre Basin

Acquired Date: December 13, 2013
Release Date: August 29, 2014
Latitude: -47.00 N
Longitude: 291.00 E
Keywords: Atmospheric, Southern Highlands, Space
Parameters: N/A

This image shows a limb (meaning a view of the horizon) of the planet where the surface can be seen at the bottom with an orange tint, a cloud can be seen in the atmosphere, and space is seen above in black. In order to make these observations, the MRO spacecraft must pitch onto its side so CRISM no longer looks down at the surface, but instead out onto the horizon of the planet. This particular observation shows a carbon dioxide (CO2) ice cloud in the mesosphere (middle layer) of Marsís very minimal atmosphere. Clouds start to form when the temperature becomes so cold that the CO2 is able to freeze from a gas to a solid. This cloud is between 50-90 km from the surface of the planet.



This image shows a limb (meaning a view of the horizon) of the planet where the surface can be seen at the bottom with an orange tint, a cloud can be seen in the atmosphere, and space is seen above in black. In order to make these observations, the MRO spacecraft must pitch onto its side so CRISM no longer looks down at the surface, but instead out onto the horizon of the planet. This particular observation shows a carbon dioxide (CO2) ice cloud in the mesosphere (middle layer) of Marsís very minimal atmosphere. Clouds start to form when the temperature becomes so cold that the CO2 is able to freeze from a gas to a solid. This cloud is between 50-90 km from the surface of the planet.

Marsís atmosphere is composed of greater than 95% CO2, 2% argon (Ar), a little less than 2% nitrogen (N2), and trace amounts of oxygen (O2) and carbon monoxide (CO). Earthís atmosphere, on the other hand, has 77% N2, 20% O2, 2% water vapor (or H2O), 1% Ar, and very small amounts of CO2. Finding CO2 clouds on Mars is interesting because we donít see clouds on Earth that freeze into pure N2 or O2, but on Mars the atmosphere is cold and thin enough for this to occasionally happen.

Click the above image to see the entire scan made by CRISM.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument also tracks seasonal variations in dust and ice aerosols in the Martian atmosphere, and water content in surface materials — leading to new understanding of the climate.

Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

   

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