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SPACE: A Cloudy Day on Mars

clouds on Mars

It might look like a postcard from Arizona, but this snapshot shows something much more exotic: the planet Mars, as seen by NASA’s Curiosity rover. The image is a combination of 21 individual photographs the rover took recently to study a strange type of wispy cloud over its Gale Crater home. Scientists realized two Earth years ago that the cloud type was forming earlier in the Martian year than they expected. So this Martian year, Curiosity was watching for the early clouds, and it was not disappointed. The clouds did indeed show up beginning in late January, when the robotic … Read more

SPACE: Clouds on Mars?

Clouds on Mars

Weather models are a daily staple of life on Earth, but they can go interplanetary as well, sometimes with a boost from Earth’s most sophisticated computers. That sort of work is on display in a newly released NASA data visualization showing how clouds grow and shrink over the course of a day on Mars. The visualization is the work of the Mars Climate Modeling Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, relying on the institution’s supercomputing facility. In the visualization, features visible on the surface of Mars include the four massive Tharsis volcanic mountains that stand out like knots … Read more

SCIENCE: Climate Change Could Destroy Stratocumulus Clouds, Which Would Scorch the Planet

If humanity pumps enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, one of Earth’s most important types of cloud could go extinct. And if the stratocumulus clouds — those puffy, low rolls of vapor that blanket much of the planet at any given moment — disappear, Earth’s temperature could climb sharply and radically, to heights not predicted in current climate models. That’s the conclusion of a paper published today (Feb. 25) in the journal Nature Geoscience and described in detail by Natalie Wolchover for Quanta Magazine. As Wolchover explained, clouds have long been one of the great uncertainties of climate models. Clouds … Read more

SPACE: NASA Wants to Send Humans to Live in the Clouds on Venus

Venus Cloud Living - NASA==

Popular science fiction of the early 20th century depicted Venus as some kind of wonderland of pleasantly warm temperatures, forests, swamps and even dinosaurs. In 1950, the Hayden Planetarium at the American Natural History Museum were soliciting reservations for the first space tourism mission, well before the modern era of Blue Origins, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. All you had to do was supply your address and tick the box for your preferred destination, which included Venus. Today, Venus is unlikely to be a dream destination for aspiring space tourists. As revealed by numerous missions in the last few decades, rather … Read more