The Mars Express of the European Space Agency (Mars Express), which is equipped with a camera with Mars, constantly monitors the mysterious “elongated clouds” that appear on the 20 km high volcano Arsia Mons near the equator of the Red Planet.
The spacecraft and the like have been following the evolution of the strange cloud since 2009. Now, new images unveiled by ESA this week show that the cloud persists.
The Martian mystery
Scanning suggests that the mysterious cloud has nothing to do with volcanic activity – according to NASA, Arsia Mons was last active about 50 million years ago. Instead, scientists speculate that it is a cloud of water ice flowing down the slopes of a volcano.
The cloud, as seen in the latest images taken by the Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) on July 17 and 19, appears to be up to 1,800 kilometers long.
Fast daily cycle
And it doesn’t take long. Every Martian year, at the time of the southern solstice on Mars – the equivalent of December 21 here on Earth – the cloud grows for several hours every day and quickly disappears.
“This elongated cloud forms every Martian year during this season around the southern solstice and repeats for 80 days or more, after a rapid daily cycle,” said Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, PhD candidate at the University of the Basque Country, and lead author of an ongoing cloud study. , said in an ESA statement. “But we don’t know yet if the clouds are always so impressive.”
This is an unusual observation, which was possible due to the wide field of view of the VMC and the highly elliptical orbit.
READ MORE: A mysterious cloud of Mars reappears, chasing a volcano on the red planet[[[[CNET]
More on Mars: NASA has launched the most sophisticated mission to Mars in human history