An over 900 kilometer long cloud running from the top of Arsia Mons on Mars. Photo: ESA / GCP /…
An over 900 kilometer long cloud running from the top of Arsia Mons on Mars. Photo: ESA / GCP / UPV / EHU Bilbao (ESA)
This week the European Space Agency released a curious photo captured by the Mars Express orbiter of a 930-mile cloud formation that strikes out the massive 1
2 -miliga Arsia Mons volcano on Mars – a phenomenon that has been observed for weeks straight. It certainly gave every superficial look that the volcano would blow, but it would be curious, as the estimated date of its latest eruption was about 50 million years ago.
It seems much easier to explain than Arsia Mons is battling back to life, by the New York Times: a routine meteorological phenomenon called orographic lifting. It is then the wind that strikes a massive structure like a mountain-Arsia Mons in this case-forced upward, cooling and expansion due to lower atmospheric pressure. As a result, water vapor inside can condense and freeze in clouds. (Orographic lift is one of the reasons that mountainous regions tend to be particularly cloudy.)
Mars atmosphere may be much less dense than Earthlings would be used to and contains as little amount of water as it was estimated it would only be 20 microns deep if spread evenly on the surface of the planet, but it still has water ice clouds. Dr Eldar Noe Dobrea, a senior scientist with the planet science institute, told the times that there was no chance that the cycle of war would have failed to detect telltale signs of an outbreak and that there is nothing unusual about the cloud formations on the west side of the volcano:
Dr. Something Dobrea said that this was clearly not a volcanic event, because spacecraft would have discovered an increase in methane, sulfur dioxide and other gases that erupt out. Instead, this is an example of how topography affects the weather.
… It is actually rare that there are no clouds over Arsia Mons. For more than a decade ago, Dr. Some Dobrea observations from a previous NASA mission, Mars Global Surveyor, attempting to merge a cloudless image of the Mars surface. But every time the spacecraft had crossed the west flank of Arsia Mons, it was cloudy.
“It does not turn out that one of the observations ever had a clear picture of the surface at this time,” he said. 19659009] As noted motherboards, researchers discovered similar clouds in 2009, 2012 and 2015, all during the winter season in March – as is the case at the moment, along with the latest dust storms that could make the clouds more visible. (These dust storms throw small grains far into the atmosphere, giving an ideal ice-cold anchor.)
Mars used to be a much more geologically active world with new evidence indicating that if there is active volcanism on the planet, it is very limited in relation to the distant past. For example, the massive Olympus Mons volcano, the highest known planetary mountain in the solar system, is estimated to have an estimated 13.6 mil high, and may be dormant rather than completely inactive.
Generally speaking, the conversation earlier this year, the planet has so much less mass than the Earth, and faith has lost so much of its thermal energy that any remaining volcanic activity would be so rare that it is highly unlikely to observe anyone, at least as volatile a schedule as a human lifetime. It may be millions of years before the planet’s largest volcanoes manage to squeeze more molten rock.
So, unfortunately, these clouds are not an indication that Mars is blowing. But please briefly entertain some of the great conspiracy theories, like this is all a NASA coverup orchestra to hide that they really screwed up Arsia Mons while constructing a secret base in cave networks below.
[New York Times]