Did the Perseverance rover capture a rainbow on Mars? This image from the rover’s left rear hazard camera definitely looks like this. But unfortunately no. However, film director JJ Abrams would be proud.
The rover’s official Twitter account best explained that rainbows are simply not possible on Mars and this is simply a lens flare:
“Rainbows are not possible here. Rainbows are created by light reflecting off round water droplets, but there isn’t enough water here to condense and it’s too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere. This arc is a lens flare. “
Many have asked: is that a rainbow on Mars? Rainbow is not possible here. Rainbows are created by light reflecting off round water droplets, but there isn’t enough water here to condense and it’s too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere. This arc is a lens flare. pic.twitter.com/mIoSSuilJW
– NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) April 6, 2021
A lens effect occurs when bright, non-imaging light (e.g. direct sunlight) enters the lens and then hits the digital sensor and the scattering of the camera. Here’s another lens flare image that also shows the recently dropped Ingenuity helicopter:
Another lens flare image shows the Ingenuity helicopter. NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover took this image of the area behind it with its integrated camera to avoid danger to the rear right. This image was taken on April 4, 2021 (Sol 43) at the local mean solar time of 14:13:44. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Atmospheric science aside, these are extremely beautiful images of Mars. If you’re wondering why you may never have seen lens flares like these from the Red Planet before, there probably were, but the quality of Perseverance cameras shows so much sharper detail in their images.
Here’s another cool lens flare image, a close-up of one of Perseverance’s wheels, also captured by one of the rear Hazcams:
NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover took this image of the area behind it with its Hazard Avoidance Camera, taken on April 4, 2021, at the rear left (Sol 43).
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
The previous Mars Exploration Rovers had and the Opportunity rover has solar filters on most of their cameras. In addition to sun filters, Perseverance also has parasols on the front Hazcams. This was considered business critical as they are needed to drive forward (stamina is usually driving forward) Parasols were not considered essential on the rear hazcams, so some of these images have stray light artifacts, such as the following:
Additional image artifacts appear in this image due to sunlight (in addition to a lens flare). Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
The lead lens flare image was taken on Sol 43 (this is April 4, 2021 for us Earthlings).
Persistence continues to take incredible pictures from ALL cameras. See all raw images here.