After excited talks of seeing a rainbow on Mars from the photo of Perseverance Mars Rover, NASA announces that it isn’t.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) often shares raw images from its spacecraft photographs on its social media accounts. Just recently, it posted a photograph of Mars with a rainbow-like image on the background, which caused quite a buzz among people.
Mars, the Red Planet
As the Earth’s sibling planet, people are always looking for similar phenomena on Mars despite the vast difference in the environments of the two planets. Hence, the latest image of Mars that NASA posted from its Mars Perseverance Rover’s Rear Left Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam) made people quite excited.
In the seemingly tilted angle of the image, you can see Mars’ surface on the bottom right, while the top left of the image showcases the bare skies of the red planet adorned with what seems to be a rainbow. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Perseverance Mars Rover
‘Perseverance,’ NASA’s Mars Rover has been on the Red Planet for over months now. Currently, it is running science investigations on Mars to prove and find evidence of past life on the planet. Moreover, the rover has placed the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars’ surface to prepare for its flight in the near future.
Rainbows Impossible on Mars
In NASA’s official Twitter account of the Perseverance Mars Rover, the photo was posted along with a quote to answer people’s queries on the topic.
The Perseverance team’s direct answer: No, it is not a rainbow.
The post further elaborates that rainbows are not possible on the Red Planet as its atmosphere and environment do not meet the conditions required in producing a rainbow. “Rainbows are created by light reflected off of round water droplets, but there isn’t enough water here to condense, and it’s too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere,” the official Twitter account states.
What It Really Is: Lens Flare
Undeniably, the real reason for what appears on Perseverance’s image is definitely less exciting. According to the official Twitter account, the rainbow-like manifestation on the image is actually a lens flare, which occurs when light is flared or scattered in a lens system. This phenomenon appears in images as a response to bright light. Hence, the lens flare in the photo taken by Perseverance gives the misleading image of a rainbow.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one of the leading agencies for civilian space programs and explorations. It is one of humanity’s greatest weapons in conquering the unknowns of anything outside the Earth’s boundaries. Every day, it discovers and confirms pieces of information relevant in expounding the human knowledge of the universe.