Are there clouds on Mars? Amateur astronomers have spotted strange looking objects that look to be clouds. The mystery deepens concerning the planet’s atmosphere, a research said today. The sighting was observed on March 12, 2012, which occurred in between what is considered day and night on the Red Planet.
One of the plumes expanded in around 10 hours and continue to appear for 11 days, changing its shape from “double blob protrusions” to standing columns which blends into a “finger” the authors of the research noted today. A second was seen nearby on April 6, 2012 which lasted for 10 days.
They have what look like tails, massive in appearance extending between 500 and 1,000 kilometers in north to south and east to west directions.
What seem to look like clouds, nobody’s sure until now, were located at very high altitude, at about 200-250 kilometers, approximately above Terra Cimmeria, which is in the area where Mar’s rugged southern highlands is found, according to the report.
The planet is being placed under close inspection for the presence of water and volcanic activity. Both of these may nurture life which the planet hasn’t shown any up to the last inspection.
There were occasional clouds and crystal formation seen in previous occasions but they were not as big as the last two and they always assemble below the 100 kilometer level.
The cloud-like formation could be composed of water particles or carbon dioxide, said the paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience by a team led by Agustin Sanchez-Lavega of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain.
In some occasions it would appear an aurora, which looks like the glowing lights that is seen in Earth’s skylines when solar particles crash with Earth’s magnetic field.
Former space missions have indicated Terra Cimmeria to have a “strip” with a substantial but limited magnetic field. If the findings are true Martian “aurora” would be 1,000 times dazzling than what we have here on earth. But “both explanations defy our current understanding of Mars’ upper atmosphere,” the scientists admit.