Why are there no rainbows on Mars? NASA expert explains


Are there rainbows on Mars? NASA decided to answer this question in the latest episode of its ‘Ask the Expert’ series. Shared on Instagram, the video shows the American space agency’s planetary scientist and Mars expert Mark Lemmon.

The answer is “no”. But several other conditions on March similar to Earth. Lemmon explained that the formation of a rainbow requires more than just water. Rainbows are formed when sunlight passes through a spherical drop, is reflected from the back and comes towards the human eye, usually after precipitation.

Lemmon said that in order for rainbows to form, water droplets are necessary as they are spherical. On Mars, there are not enough water droplets. The scientist said that droplets available on Mars are 20 times smaller than human hair and 10 times smaller than the droplets found in Earth’s clouds. The droplets must be at least 10 times larger to create a rainbow, Lemmon said, adding that even though snow could be found in Mars clouds, there is no point in forming rainbows.

So what was that Perseverance rover saw arcs across the dusty March sky in early April? After much speculation on social media, NASA rejected the idea, saying the arc was a lens radiance. NASA also said there is not enough water on Mars to condense and it is too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere to take the form of spherical water droplets.

Lemmon also referred to this incident in the video. Although there are no rainbows on Mars, there are many Earth-like phenomena on the red planet, including clouds, storms and winds.


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