A long, strange cloud has formed so many times over it Volcano marched that scientists have resigned and appointed.
Meet the elongated cloud of Arsia Mons or AMEC. Its long bright trail has become a familiar feature on the peak known as Arsia Mons, southeast of the most famous Olympus Mons. Although the cloud comes and flies over the volcano, scientists say it is not formed by the volcano itself. And it’s timely: scientists affiliated with the European Mars Express orbit expected it to reappear in its annual cycle.
“We’ve been researching this intriguing phenomenon and we were looking forward to seeing a cloud shape like this,” said Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, PhD student. candidate for the University of the Basque Country in Spain and main author of the current study, he said in a statement launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), which manages the spacecraft.
Pictures: Red planet seen from the Mars Express in Europe
“This elongated cloud is forming in everyone Martian year during this season around the southern solstice and is repeated for 80 days or even longer, “Hernandez-Bernal said.”; Still, we still don’t know if the clouds are ever that impressive.
So far, scientists have taken over the cloud up to 1,100 miles (according to ESA). The scientists said the tail-like structure is made up of water ice and, despite its location on Arsia Mons, is not made up of the volcano itself, but of the way local winds interact with the topography.
And the elongated cloud of Arsia Mons doesn’t just come, stay there for a while and dissipate. It forms and fades over a few hours each local morning, then returns the next day. This makes the strange cloud difficult to study from orbit around the Red Planet.
But Mars Express has the unique rating. He carries an instrument called the Visual monitoring camera, which can photograph an unusually wide strip of the planet in a single frame. And the spacecraft’s orbit aligns to tune Arsia Mons during the morning hours when the cloud is visible.
“The magnification of this huge cloud can’t be seen if the camera only has a narrow field of view, or if you’re just watching in the afternoon,” said Eleni Ravanis, a graduate coach of the monitoring camera team visual. the statement. “Fortunately for Mars Express, the spacecraft’s highly elliptical orbit, along with the VMC instrument’s wide field of view, allows us to take photos that cover a wide area of the planet early in the morning. to say we can capture her! “
Scientists the last tail-like cloud of Arsia Mons in September and October 2018. At this time and again, the days are the shortest of the year in the northern hemisphere of the red planet and the longest of the year in the southern hemisphere. Mons Arsia itself is located a little south of the Martian equator and extends to an altitude of about 20 km.
Scientists hope that by continuing to study the strange cloud, they can begin to understand how long it has been making its appearances and why it appears only in the mornings.
Email Meghan Bartels at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.