This image of the martian sunset from Sol 24 shows much more color variation than had previously been seen. The blue color near the Sun is not caused by clouds of water ice, but by the martian dust itself. The dust in the atmosphere absorbs blue light, giving the sky its red color, but it also scatters some of the blue light into the area just around the Sun because of its size. The blue color only becomes apparent near sunrise and sunset, when the light has to pass through the largest amount of dust. This image was taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder.
Mars Pathfinder is the second in NASA's Discovery program of low-cost spacecraft with highly focused science goals. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, developed and manages the Mars Pathfinder mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) was developed by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory under contract to JPL. Peter Smith is the Principal Investigator.
Photojournal note: Sojourner spent 83 days of a planned seven-day mission exploring the Martian terrain, acquiring images, and taking chemical, atmospheric and other measurements. The final data transmission received from Pathfinder was at 10:23 UTC on September 27, 1997. Although mission managers tried to restore full communications during the following five months, the successful mission was terminated on March 10, 1998.