January 19, 2021


Aim for Excellence

That Weird, Long Cloud on Mars Has Made a Dramatic Return

Each very good story warrants a sequel – and the peculiar white cloud noticed higher...

Each very good story warrants a sequel – and the peculiar white cloud noticed higher than an extinct Martian volcano again in 2018 just acquired a person, due to the fact the stunning fog trail has manufactured one more visual appearance.


In reality, this is the most current instalment in a lengthy-operating sequence, and this time scientists had been wanting out expectantly for the event.

It is really believed that the white plume is shaped from dense air near the planet’s surface obtaining forced uphill, in which the temperature drops and the dampness condenses around dust particles.

It comes about on Earth way too: it truly is named orographic lift.

So this doesn’t suggest the lengthy-useless Arsia Mons volcano is suddenly bursting again into life. But even even though the cloud isn’t really associated with volcanic exercise, it truly is nonetheless a stunning sight to behold.

“We have been investigating this intriguing phenomenon and had been expecting to see these kinds of a cloud kind around now,” says physicist Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, from the University of the Basque Region in Spain.

“This elongated cloud forms every Martian calendar year in the course of this period around the southern solstice, and repeats for eighty times or even additional, next a speedy day-to-day cycle. Even so, we never know nevertheless if the clouds are often very this spectacular.”

Hernandez-Bernal is part of a group employing the Visible Monitoring Digital camera (VMC) on the Mars Express probe to preserve an eye on the Pink Earth. The spacecraft has been in orbit for the earlier sixteen several years, seeing the switching seasons and times.


A Martian day lasts a very little more than 24 hours, while a calendar year lasts about 687 times – therefore this getting the cloud’s initially visual appearance because 2018.

The cloud now has a identify – it truly is getting termed the Arsia Mons Elongated Cloud, or AMEC.

Based on observations so much, it can extend out to about one,800 kilometres (one,118 miles), which on Earth would get it just about half way throughout the US.

And the VMC is the excellent instrument to capture it with – the pics higher than had been taken on 17 July and 19 July. Though most spacecraft see Mars in the afternoon due to their orbits, Mars Express is also seeing in the early mornings.

That is when this intriguing phenomenon seems, for about 3 hours at a time right before disappearing. It also occurs in the course of the southern solstice when the Sun is in the southernmost place in the Martian skies.



“The extent of this large cloud won’t be able to be observed if your camera only has a narrow discipline of see, or if you are only observing in the afternoon,” says planetary scientist Eleni Ravanis, doing work on the Mars Express mission at the European Room Agency.


“Fortunately for Mars Express, the remarkably elliptical orbit of the spacecraft, coupled with the vast discipline of see of the VMC instrument, allows us consider images covering a vast place of the world in the early early morning. That means we can catch it!”

Researchers are continuing to attempt and realize the AMEC and it truly is conduct, but they’ve acquired a great vantage point.

You can see some of the stunning imagery that Mars Express has captured so much on Flickr.