Strange giant clouds have been spotted on Mars by amateur astronomers who on two occasions have reported definite plume like features on the red planet.
Astronomers have been puzzled by the reported appearance of cloud like plumes high above the surface of Mars who have been studying the atmosphere of the Red Planet.
The cloud like plumes was seen rising high above the surface of the red planet at an altitude of 250 km. The plumes of the cloud were seen rising from the same spot on the Martian Planet. Earlier also such phenomenon was seen but at altitude of 100 km.
Agustin Sanchez-Lavega of the Universidad del Pais Vasco in Spain, lead author of the paper published in the journal Nature said, “At about 250km, the division between the atmosphere and outer space is very thin, so the reported plumes are extremely unexpected.”
These strange features were formed in less than 10 hours and were spread across an area of 1000 by 500 kilometer. They remained visible for a period of 10 days and the structure changed day to day. The features were not visible by any of the spacecrafts which were orbiting the planet because of their viewing geometries and illumination conditions.
Astronomers went back and closely pored over the archived Hubble Space Telescope images which were taken in between 1995 and 1999 and so also amateur images spanning 2001 to 2014. The pictures revealed occasional clouds at the limb of the Red Planet at an altitude of 100 km.
However one set of images pertaining to May 17, 1997 revealed an abnormally high plume much akin to the plume spotted by the amateur astronomers. Scientists are now trying to figure out the nature and the cause of the plumes by using both the Hubble data in combination with the images taken by amateurs
Agustin said, “One idea we’ve discussed is that the features are caused by a reflective cloud of water-ice, carbon dioxide-ice or dust particles, but this would require exceptional deviations from standard atmospheric circulation models to explain cloud formations at such high altitudes.”
Antonio Garcia Munoz, a research fellow at ESA’s ESTEC and co-author of the study felt that they are related to an auroral emission.