This story is part of it, our series explores the red planet.
The crawling volcano of Arsia Mons on Mars reaches more than 12 miles (20 kilometers) high. It is impressive enough on its own, but looks extra wild when it forms a strange cloud above it.
The European Space Agency Mars Express has been keeping an eye on a “mysteriously long and thin cloud” that periodically appears on Monsignor Arsia. On Wednesday, ESA released a new look at this cloud from observations made in July.
“This elongated cloud forms a Martian year during this season around the southern solstice, and repeats for 80 days or even longer, after a fast daily cycle,” said Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, a doctoral candidate in -University of the Basque Country in Spain. “However, we still don’t know if the clouds are ever so impressive.”
The cloud can span more than 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers). Recent observations have been around the southern solstice of Mars. “In the early morning during this period, this fleeing cloud grows for about three hours, quickly disappearing again a few hours later,” ESA said. Mars Express was in a prime location to capture cloud images.
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In 2018, when Earthlings eyes the cloud, there were some, but this is not the case. According to NASA, the last volcanic hurray of Arsia Mons was about 50 million years ago.
The enigmatic cloud is made of water ice. The Mars Express science team decided he needed his own name as he continued to investigate his appearances and disappearances. It is now known as the “Arsia Mons Elongated Cloud,” or AMEC for short. That’s catchy.