The Mars Express of the European Space Agency Mars Express, equipped with a Mars orbit camera, holds up close a mysterious “extended cloud” appearing over the 20-kilometer volcano Arsia Mons near the equator of the Red Planet.
The spacecraft and others like it are tracking the evolution of the strange cloud since 2009. Now, new images unveiled this week by ESA show that the cloud has been preserved.
The scan suggests that the mysterious cloud has nothing to do with volcanic activity – the last time Arsia Mons was active was about 50 million years ago, according to NASA. Instead, scientists suspect that a cloud of water ice is flowing down the sloping sides of the volcano.
The clouds, as seen in the latest photos taken on July 1
Fast daily cycle
And it also doesn’t last long. Every Martian year, around the time of the southern solstice on Mars – the equivalent of December 21 here on Earth – the cloud grows for a few hours every day and quickly fades.
“This elongated cloud forms every Martian year this season around the southern solstice and repeats for 80 days or more, after a fast day cycle,” said Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, PhD at the University of the Basque Country and lead author. of ongoing research in the cloud, says a statement from ESA. “But we still don’t know if the clouds are always that impressive.”
This is an unusual observation made possible by the VMC’s wide field of view and highly elliptical orbit.
READ MORE: The mysterious cloud on Mars reappears to chase a volcano on the red planet.[[CNET]
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