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Rediscovering a 1,600 km long mysterious cloud of clouds on Mars

With the help of the orbiter Mars Express, the European Space Agency has seen the return of an unusual cloud of clouds on the red planet.

Mars Express photographed a 1,600 km long cloud of clouds on Mars in mid-July 2020. Photo: ESA.

The photo shared online this week by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows a giant band of clouds stretching 1,600 km in the wind direction on the left side of the Arsia Mons volcano, near the equator of Mars. It was captured with the visual surveillance camera (VMC) aboard the orbit Mars Express on July 15 and 19.

The long thin band of clouds is made up of ice crystals. It was first discovered in 2018 and appears to appear every year around the summer solstice period at the southernmost tip of the planet, according to study lead author Jorge Hernandez-Bernal, an astronomer at the Great Studying Basque in Spain.

“We have studied this gravitational phenomenon and predicted its appearance,” shared Hernandez-Bernal. However, scientists still do not fully understand how the cloud formed, how long it lasted, or when it disappeared from the Martian atmosphere.

The cloud that appeared in 2018 has a length of about 1,450 km. Photo: ESA.

In the latest observation, the team only saw the cloud for three hours in the morning because by evening most orbiting ships orbiting Mars would fly out of the visible area of the Arsia Mons volcano.

“The cloud cannot be detected with a narrow field camera or only observed in the afternoon. Fortunately, the VMC’s wide field of view allows us to scan a large area on Mars early in the morning and thanks to that. can take pictures of the cloud, “adds Hernandez-Bernal.

Despite having a much thinner atmosphere than Earth, clouds still appear frequently on Mars. Studying the clouds can help scientists better understand the planet’s climate and seasonal weather patterns.

(According to UPI)

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