Clouds scoot across the Martian sky in a movie clip consisting of 10 frames taken by the Surface Stereo Imager on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.
This clip accelerates the motion. The camera took these 10 frames over a 10-minute period from 2:52 p.m. to 3:02 p.m. local solar time at the Phoenix site during Sol 94 (Aug. 29), the 94th Martian day since landing.
Particles of water-ice make up these clouds, like ice-crystal cirrus clouds on Earth. Ice hazes have been common at the Phoenix site in recent days.
The camera took these images as part of a campaign by the Phoenix team to see clouds and track winds. The view is toward slightly west of due south, so the clouds are moving westward or west-northwestward.
The clouds are a dramatic visualization of the Martian water cycle. The water vapor comes off the north pole during the peak of summer. The northern-Mars summer has just passed its peak water-vapor abundance at the Phoenix site. The atmospheric water is available to form into clouds, fog and frost, such as the lander has been observing recently.
The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
Photojournal Note: As planned, the Phoenix lander, which landed May 25, 2008 23:53 UTC, ended communications in November 2008, about six months after landing, when its solar panels ceased operating in the dark Martian winter.