Washington, Sep 6 :
The belief that Mars could support life received a boost when NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover identified clouds that researchers believe are most likely to have formed through the accumulation of water ice crystals or supercooled water droplets.
“Clouds are part of the planet’s climate system,” Robert Haberle, a planetary scientist from the NASA Ames Research Center was quoted as saying by Astrobiology Magazine.
“Their behaviour tells us about winds and temperatures,” he explained.
“Some studies suggest that clouds in the past may have significantly warmed the planet through a greenhouse effect. A warmer environment is more conducive to life,” Haberle added.
So far, Curiosity’s main focus was downwards, drilling into Mars rock and sampling dust within its on-board chemistry laboratory.
Now, turning towards the skies, the robot has identified clouds. In a recent series of images sent back from Mars, the NASA rover tracked a formation of clouds drift overhead, blown by high altitude winds.
Now, these drifting clouds will enable scientists understand better the weather patterns.
They will complement Curiosity’s geology work while it continues to piece together Mars’ climatic history from clues locked in Mars rock, Discovery News reported.