In september 2018A mysterious, white cloud formed at the site of a volcano on Mars.
Since then, clouds have started appearing on Mars at about the same time of the year of Mars, and yet astronomers are not sure how and why this is formed. However, they are now taking a closer look at the formation of this cloud as the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express mission captures images of this mysterious, elongated cloud that gives astronomers a new look at the white plume.
Mars Express’s spacecraft captured images of the cloud using its visual monitoring camera on 17 and 19 July.
In the images, the cloud appears as a white spot hovering above the Arcia Mons volcano on Mars, near the Marian equator, more than 20 kilometers high. Despite claiming that the cloud was a sign of volcanic activity on Mars, astronomers have concluded that it is not.
Instead, although the cloud is made up of water ice, it is, according to the ESA, the air flow caused by the ‘leeward’ slope of the volcano – which the wind does not face.
The science team behind Mars Express has now named the cloud as Arcea Mons Allonet Cloud, AMEC.
“We are investigating this intriguing phenomenon and were hoping to see such cloud form around now,” George Hernández-Bernal, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Basque Country (Spain) and lead author of the ongoing study, ESA said in the statement.
A cloud appears in this season every Mars year, which is equivalent to 687 days on Earth around the southern solstice of Mars.
The Southern Solstice is the time of year on Mars when the Sun is in the southernmost position in the Marsh sky, similarly it occurs on December 21 on Earth.
According to the researchers, the mysterious cloud then persists for 80 days or longer, with a rapid diurnal cycle. AMEC grows for about three hours in the morning before disappearing again in the early morning.
Although clouds are common on Mars, this was not uncommon. The Martian cloud is strangely long, with a length of up to 1800 km. Another aspect that adds to its mystery is how long it stays on the red planet, staying there for more than three months at a time, which is longer than any other cloud on Mars. .
The Mars Express mission has been orbiting the red planet for the past 16 years, studying the interior, surface and subsurface of Mars.