Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sunset of Mars

Women love sunsets (so do mosquitoes), because sunsets are gorgeous. 

There are a menagerie of colors appearing in the sky during sunset--orange, red, maroon, yellow--that reminds women of their own temperament; hot, suffocating, just like the planet that bears their namesake. 
On Earth, we see orange, red and yellow merging together around the sun, and when we look away from the sun the sky is blue. But a Martian sunset is different. It's blue surrounding the sun, and the color fades into faint pink as your eyes trail away from the sun. It's blue where the red should be, and red where the blue should be.
Mars is the fourth rock from the sun. Often dubbed the "Red Planet" because of the abundant rust on its surface, it is named after the Roman god of war Mars.  It's atmosphere contains 95% carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen, and 1.6% argon. Most importantly, our atmosphere is much denser than Mars' atmosphere and the Martian air contains a plethora of tiny particles of dust. 
So when you have particle-rich air like Martian air, short wavelength (blue) gets absorbed and long wavelength (red) gets scattered, and hence the red sky. But when you look at the setting sun, the dominate blue light would cover up the weak red light, because the beam of light streams directly at you.

On Earth, our atmosphere scatters the blue light and absorbs the red, and hence the blue sky. But looking at the setting sun, our dense air filters out the blue, so you'll see the red, orange and yellow.

Can we verify this?
Sure. We have pictures of sunset on Mars taken by NASA.
Image: NASA


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