Above the 20 km high volcano of Mars, Arsia Mons reappeared a mysteriously long thin cloud.
A recurring feature is that the cloud is made up of water ice, but despite the appearance, it is not plunge-like associated with volcanic activity. Instead, an interesting stream is formed when air flows are affected by the “sloping”; slope of the volcano – the windless side.
These images, which could reach 1,800 km in length, were taken on July 17 and 19 by the Mars Express Visual Surveillance Camera (VMC), which has been exploring the Red Planet from orbit for the past 16 years. .
“We studied this intriguing phenomenon and hoped that it would now be possible to see such a cloud shape around us,” explains the Ph.D. Jorge Hernandez-Bernal. candidate for the University of the Basque Country (Spain) and principal author of further research.
“This elongated cloud forms every March during this solstice and repeats 80 or even more days after a fast day’s cycle. But we don’t know yet if the clouds are always so spectacular.”
The day of Mars, or sol, is slightly longer than the day of Earth at 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds. The year on the Red Planet consists of 668 steps, which is about 687 days, so the seasons last twice as long.
The Southern Solstice is the period of the year when the Sun is in the southern position of the Martian sky, as on December 21st. On earth. In the early mornings of this period, this short-lived cloud grows for about three hours and quickly disappears again in just a few hours.
Most aircraft in orbit around the Red Planet are usually observed in the afternoon, but the Mars Express is in a privileged position to collect and provide important information about this unique effect.
“It’s impossible to see this huge cloud if your camera only has a narrow field of view or if you’re only watching in the afternoon,” said Eleni Ravanis, a young Mars Express mission intern working specifically for the VMC instrument.
“Fortunately, the Mars Express, a highly elliptical spacecraft orbit coupled with a wide field of view of a VMC instrument, allows us to take pictures of a large area of the planet in the early morning. That means we can catch it!”
The Mars Express science team has now called the cloud an Arsia Mons oblong cloud, AMEC. So how long has it disappeared and reappeared? Why does it form only in the early morning? Follow as scientists continue to investigate and we reveal more secrets from Mars.
The Mars Express follows a curious cloud
Submitted by the European Space Agency
CitationThe return of the cloud to Mars (July 30, 2020) was remarkably protracted. July 30, From https://phys.org/news/2020-07-extremely-elonched-cloud-mars.html
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