New movie reveals Mars` blue sunset

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has shot a movie clip, which reveals Mars` bluish sunset.

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2010, 18:00 PM IST

Washington: America’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has shot a Mars movie clip, which reveals the red planet’s bluish sunset and another clip that shows the silhouette of the moon Phobos passing in front of the Sun.

Mars’ sunset appears red with a bluish glow around the sun because of the dust particles around the planet.

“These visualizations of an alien sunset show what it must have looked like for Opportunity, in a way we rarely get to see, with motion,” said rover science team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station.

The sunset movie, combining exposures taken Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, 2010, through different camera filters, accelerates about 17 minutes of sunset into a 30-second simulation.

Thanks to the small moons, these events – called transits or partial eclipses -- look quite different from a solar eclipse seen on Earth.

Pancam Lead Scientist Jim Bell, of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and Lemmon chose a transit by Phobos shortly before the Mars sunset on Nov. 9, 2010, for a set of Pancam exposures taken four seconds apart and combined into the new, 30-second, eclipse movie.

Bell said, “For nearly seven years now, we’ve been using the cameras on Spirit and Opportunity to help us experience Mars as if we were there, viewing these spectacular vistas for ourselves.”

“Whether it’s seeing glorious sunsets and eclipses like these, or the many different and lovely sandy and rocky landscapes that we’ve driven through over the years, we are all truly exploring Mars through the lenses of our hardy robotic emissaries.”

ANI