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Clouds seen by Curiosity on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The clouds on Mars look oddly Earthlike in recently released photos taken by NASA's Curiosity rover.

Why it matters: By studying these Martian clouds from the ground, scientists hope to learn more about how Mars' thin atmosphere works and how it differs from Earth's.

What they found: This year, NASA commanded Curiosity to keep an eye out for early clouds forming in the planet's atmosphere after spotting them earlier than expected on Mars two Earth years ago.

  • When Curiosity did spot early-forming clouds in late January 2021, researchers noticed they were much higher in the atmosphere than typical clouds the rover has seen in the past.
  • These January clouds were "wispy puffs filled with ice crystals that scattered light from the setting Sun, some of them shimmering with color," NASA said in a statement.
  • As researchers continued to study them, they realized the high altitude clouds were made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, not water ice, which composes the clouds seen by Curiosity at about 37 miles above the surface.

The big picture: Mars is a popular place these days. Three new missions arrived at the Red Planet this year with plans to study the world from above and from the surface.

  • Eventually, NASA hopes to launch a mission to return samples from the planet to Earth in order to study them with cutting-edge tools to learn more about whether Mars once played host to life.

Go deeper

Sep 4, 2021 - Science

The future of the search for life

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: NASA/Getty Images, Boyer/Roger Viollet via Getty Images

New probes to study nearby worlds, advanced telescopes to peer at far away planets, and expanding ideas about the signs of life are fueling a renaissance in the search for life beyond Earth.

Why it matters: It's an age-old question — is life as we know it on Earth unique, or is the universe actually teeming with life?

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
25 mins ago - Economy & Business

Investors pour millions into immersive, interactive art experiences

Photo Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

How much would you pay for "a sleek, if pleasantly confusing, package of moods" or "a confusing tangle of disjointed installations" or even "the total erosion of meaning itself"? The answer, according to the current market-clearing price, seems to be about $35.

Why it matters: Investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into ticketed experiences — immersive, interactive museum-like spaces that don't have the d0-not-touch stuffiness of traditional museums.

Special Envoy for Haiti resigns over Biden deportations

Daniel Foote testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 26, 2016. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Special Envoy for Haiti on Wednesday resigned from his position, writing in his resignation letter obtained by PBS that he "will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees."

Why it matters: Ambassador Daniel Foote's resignation comes amid heightened anger over the treatment of Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers living in a temporary encampment in Del Rio, Texas — especially after images surfaced of Border Patrol agents whipping at the migrants from horseback.