It’s been a month now since a long, strange cloud on the Red planet Mars is confusing the scientists with its presence.
According to a statement released by the European space agency (ESA) this cloud is hovering since a month over a mountain called Arsia Mons near the Martian equator. Since September 13, this mysterious cloud is dazzling the researchers about its formation. As per their claim, the location of the cloud is just a mere coincidence as no volcanic process can produce the cloud now. the volcano hasn’t been active in about 50 million years, according to scientists.
Not a coincidence?
Mars express has spotted 3 such similar clouds on 3 previous locations before, and the formation of those structures was during the same time of the year. Now this is not a coincidence as per ESA.
The cloud has an absolute composition of water ice which is created by air flow along the side of the volcano.
Scientists watching the cloud have noticed that it grows over the course of the morning, stretching along the equator. It may also be affected by the dust still in the atmosphere from the massive dust storm that engulfed Mars earlier this year.
In an image taken on October 10 by the MEO’s Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC), the white feature can be seen extending around 930 miles westward of Arsia Mons. As a comparison, the volcano itself has a diameter of about 270 miles at its base. It is the second largest volcano known to science in terms of volume, beaten only by its neighbor Olympus Mons. In fact, Arsia Mons has 30 times the volume of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the largest volcano on Earth.
The northern hemisphere of the Red Planet experienced its winter solstice on October 16. In the months leading up to the solstice, most cloud activity disappears over big volcanoes like Arsia Mons. For the rest of the year, its summit is covered with clouds.
However, even in the lead up to the solstice, a water ice cloud like the one shown in the image is known to form along the southwest flank of the volcano. It has previously been observed by Mars Express and other missions in 2009, 2012 and 2015.
Over the course of the Martian day, the cloud spotted by the MEO varies in appearance, growing in length until it reaches such an impressive size that it may even be visible to telescopes on Earth.
NASA claims to continue its attempts on making contacts with the opportunity rover future news and updates.