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NASA’s Curiosity rover captures bluish sunset photo on Mars

If you ever want to see a blue sunset you’ll have to go to Mars.

NASA’s Curiosity rover recently captured stunning images of the sun setting behind a Martian horizon. The images, which were captured with Curiosity’s Mast Camera in between dust storms, show blue and gray hues over the horizon. This sunset was the first observed by Curiosity in full color.

Mark Lemmon, the Curiosity science-team member who planned the observations, explained why Martian sunsets are blue and don’t contain the typical red, orange and yellow hues.

“The colors come from the fact that the very fine dust is the right size so that blue light penetrates the atmosphere slightly more efficiently,” Lemmon said. “When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the sun than light of other colors does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the sun.”

Curiosity captured the images on April 15 at the close of the rover mission’s 956th Martian day, but NASA just released them this weekend. Curiosity took four images over a span of six minutes and 51 seconds. The researchers who were making the image observations put them all together to create an animated image.

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