Mars: Why It’s A Strange Cloud and Not Volcano Smoke.

ESA Press Release September 13, 2018: "Since 13 September, ESA’s Mars Express has been observing the evolution of an elongated cloud formation hovering in the vicinity of the 20 km-high Arsia Mons volcano, close to the planet’s equator. In spite of its location, this atmospheric feature is not linked to volcanic activity but is rather a water ice cloud driven by the influence of the volcano’s leeward slope on the air flow – something that scientists call an orographic or lee cloud – and a regular phenomenon in this region." Image by European Space Agency/GCP/UPV/EHU Bilbao.
ESA Press Release September 13, 2018: “Since 13 September, ESA’s Mars Express has been observing the evolution of an elongated cloud formation hovering in the vicinity of the 20 km-high Arsia Mons volcano, close to the planet’s equator. In spite of its location, this atmospheric feature is not linked to volcanic activity but is rather a water ice cloud driven by the influence of the volcano’s leeward slope on the air flow – something that scientists call an orographic or lee cloud – and a regular phenomenon in this region.” Image by European Space Agency/GCP/UPV/EHU Bilbao.

October 25, 2018 Mars Express Press Release: "The cloud can be seen in this view taken on 10 October by the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) on Mars Express – which has imaged it hundreds of times over the past few weeks – as the white, elongated feature extending 1500 km westward of Arsia Mons. As a comparison, the cone-shaped volcano has a diameter of about 250 km." Image by Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera.
October 25, 2018 Mars Express Press Release: “The cloud can be seen in this view taken on 10 October by the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) on Mars Express – which has imaged it hundreds of times over the past few weeks – as the white, elongated feature extending 1500 km westward of Arsia Mons. As a comparison, the cone-shaped volcano has a diameter of about 250 km.” Image by Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera.

Yes, that’s a volcano right below where the long cloud starts. But the volcano is supposed to be extinct. If it isn’t, that’s a much bigger story than a 930-mile-long (1,500 km) plume of cloud vapour over extinct volcano Arsia Mons that appeared for the first time on September 13, 2018.

Sciencealert.com writes: “While the long white cloud appears to emerge from the summit of a volcano, to researchers from the European Space Agency this is a trick of the eye. Mars has not seen a single volcanic eruption for millions of years, so there’s zero chance that Arsia Mons is on the verge of reawakening. Still, even if the plume is not volcanic in origin, the elevated peak of Arsia Mons is still reponsible.”

Long, white cloud imaged on September 21, 2018, hovering near 20 km-high Arsia Mons volcano, close to the planet’s equator. Image by ESA.
Long, white cloud imaged on September 21, 2018, hovering near 20 km-high Arsia Mons volcano, close to the planet’s equator. Image by ESA.

Scientists call it an “orographic cloud.” On Earth, orographic clouds form on the downwind side of mountains when dense air close to the surface flows uphill. That flow causes dust particles to expand. Then they cool to a temperature where moisture can condense into water ice on the dust. The extinct Martian Arsia Mons volcano mountain has had such orographic clouds photographed before in 2009, 2012 and 2015. Scientists at the European Space Agency say they have watched the long cloud grow over a morning along the equator.

Follow the development of this cloud via the daily images sent by the VMC:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/esa_marswebcam/

Also see:

08-26-2016 – More Evidence of Ancient Thermonuclear Explosions On Mars At American Inst. of Astronautics and Aeronautics 2016 Space Conference


More Information:

08-08-2018 – Elon Musk’s SpaceX Holding Secret Mars Workshop Today
07-25-2018 – Underground Lake Reported Beneath Martian South Pole.
07-01-2018 – Oumuamua — Comet? Asteroid? Other? Changing Speed and Course
06-19-2018 – Update: “We’re Going to Have A Space Force … And Very Soon We’re Going to Mars” – President Trump.
06-13-2018 – One of Largest Storms Ever Seen On Mars Threatens the Opportunity Rover.
06-07-2018 – NASA Confirms Organic Molecules On Mars — Will Life Evidence Be Next?


Websites:

Mars Express Press Release About Long White Cloud at Arsia Mons volcanic mountain, October 25, 2018:  http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Mars_Express_keeps_an_eye_on_curious_cloud

SpaceX – Mars:  https://www.spacex.com/mars

“The first SpaceX BFR should make orbital launches by 2020,” March 19, 2018, Phys.orghttps://phys.org/news/2018-03-spacex-bfr-orbital.html


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