Almost on the equator of Mars, above the Arsia Mons volcano, 19 kilometers high, a gigantic cloud has appeared in recent days. It has been extended about 1800 kilometers in lengthIn fact, it is so large that it can be seen with telescopes from Earth. Funny thing is not that, but it does appear periodically every Martian year, and astronomers are not sure why.

This long thin cloud was seen on July 17 and 19 by the Mars Express, a satellite that has been orbiting the Red Planet for 16 years. The European Space Agency has released the cloud images captured by the Mars Express.

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Punctual as a clock and of unknown origin

This curious cloud has its own name, sWe know it as AMEC by its acronym of elongated cloud of Arsia Mons in English. And it is that she even received her own name because she is an “old acquaintance” of the astronomers who study Mars. The cloud has also been seen on previous occasions and is expected to appear in the last few days.

AMEC as seen from the Mars Express. Via ESA.

Previously fHe was photographed by the Mars Express in 2015, 2012 and 2009. Why this three-year period? It’s not really three years as such, but a calendar year from Mars, which equates to 687 days on Earth. This annual Martian cycle marks the appearance of AMEC on a regular basis.

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Its cycle is daily, is formed and destroyed every Martian day over a period of approximately 80 days. They tell ESA that in the morning it forms for about three hours and then suddenly disappears.

At first, it was speculated that the origin of this cloud was the eruption of the Arsia Mons volcano, but NASA explains that this volcano has not undergone volcanic activity for about 50 million years. So what shape? Is known to be composed of water in the form of ice but nothing else.

Fg AMEC photographed from the Mars Express in 2018. Via ESA.

Even though there are various probes around Mars, Mars Express has the advantage of observing this cloud since it revolves around this area in the Martian morning while the others do it in the Martian afternoon, so you can better observe the cloud. The team that coordinates Mars Express are now looking to better study how it forms, why it does it periodically, and how it forms early in the morning.

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On the neighboring planet we still have a lot to explore to get to know him well. Currently, two ships are on their way to Mars (the one from the United Arab Emirates and the one from China). That of the United States will be launched in a few hours.

Source : Engadget