Shifting shadows and flashing frost…

To start with, just look at this animation of 7 images taken on Sol 114… you might have to click on it to see movement…

What did you see? The shadows of the trench wall edging slowly across the trench floor as the Sun moves across the sky? Well, yes, there’s that… but if you look more closely I think you can see spots of frost appearing on the trench floor and brightening as time passes, like stars coming out… of course, they might just be imaging artefacts, but I’m pretty sure they’re tiny sparkles of frost condensing on the floor of the trench as the Sun sinks lower in the sky and the temperature at the Phoenix landing site plummets… 🙂

UPDATE: an alternative explanation from one of UMSF’s most knowledgeable contributors, FredK…

Thanks for the gif, Stu. I think we’re seeing tiny ice crystals with flat faces that reflect the sun to the camera when the sun’s at just the right angle. Not all of them brighten steadily – some brighten and then dim, so I think they may not be forming during the sequence, just sitting there, waiting to catch the sun at the right angle.”
Ahh… makes sense, didn’t think of that. Thanks!

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~ by phoenixpics on September 20, 2008.

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