Like clockwork, a strange cloud returned high above the Martian’s face.
This thin, long cloud was spotted on July 17 and 19 by the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) attached to Mars Express, a satellite that has been in orbit around Mars since 2004. These images were made possible by the elliptical orbit of Mars Express and VMC’s wide field view, as noted in the European Space Agency. press release.
The cloud is a applicant feature on Mars, which appears every year above AruMons, a height of 12.4 miles (20-kilometers) a volcano located near the Martian equator. The cloud resembles a volcanic plume, but is not associated with any type of volcanic activity. Composed of water ice, the a cloud rises along the lower slope of the volcano, that is, the side that does not face the prevailing winds.
The elongated Arsia Mons Cloud, or AMEC, as it is called, can reach around Length 1,101 miles (1,800 km) in length. Incredibly, it can get large enough to be spotted by telescopes on Earth, according to to ESA.
“We have been investigating this intriguing phenomenon and we have been waiting to see this form of cloud around now,” said Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, a PhD candidate at the University of the Basque Country in Spain, in a statement for ESA press release.
AMEC forms annually around the time of the southern solstice of the planet, which is the equivalent of Martian the winter solstice on Earth. The cloud forms in the early morning, builds up over the next few hours, and then dissipates quickly. This meteorological cycle of birth and death typically lasts for about 80 days.
Hernandez-Bernal said “we still don’t know if the clouds are ever so impressive,” as close observations of AMEC go back only 11 years.
The last AMEC cycle happened two years ago. Previous observations were made by Mars Express in 2015, 2012, and 2009. The seasons on Mars last twice as long as they do on Earth, just as a year on Mars lasts for 687 days on Earth, hence the long delay between annual AMEC cycles.
The formation of these water ice clouds may have something to do with the amount of dust present in the Martian atmosphere, but scientists have much to learn about these elongated clouds. gigantic, as when they first appeared and why they form so early in the morning.
Mars is not the only planet with intriguing clouds. Jupiter’s Atmospheric formations are more impressive, they appear twists and twists filled.