The ESA’s Mars Express orbiter has actually found an amusing cloud on Mars, right near the Arsia Mons Volcano. In the beginning glimpse it appears like a plume coming out of the volcano. However it’s development is not connected to any internal activity in this long-dead volcano. It’s a cloud of water ice called an orographic or lee cloud.
The cloud isn’t connected to any volcanic activity, however its development is related to the kind and elevation of Arsia Mons. Arsia Mons is an inactive volcano, with researchers putting its last eruptive activity at 10 mya. This isn’t the very first time this kind of cloud has actually been seen hovering around Arsia Mons.
The lee cloud at Arsia Mons is more than an amusing cloud on Mars. It’s an unique meteorological function that frequently happens in the world also. They’re brought on by standing climatic waves. As stratified air is required to transfer to a greater elevation by a landform, usually a mountain, the air cools and the condensation forms clouds. Whereas other cloud types can form and after that cross the sky, a lee cloud is connected to the landscape function that formed it.
The Express Orbiter has actually been seeing the cloud kind given that September 13 th. The orbiter recorded numerous pictures of this amusing cloud on Mars as it grew to a length of 1500 kms.
These kinds of clouds are likewise connected to dust storms on Mars. After a dust storm, the environment has plenty of strong particles called condensation nuclei. These small dust grains supply a strong surface area for the water ice to condense onto. The significant, planet-wide dust storm that swallowed up Mars last June and July offered ideal conditions for a cloud of this size to form.
As in the world, the seasons contribute in cloud activity. October 16 th is the solstice in the northern hemisphere. The top of Arsia Mons is usually covered in clouds throughout the remainder of the year, however leading up to the solstice, the majority of the big volcanoes lose their cloud cover. This cloud is the exception though. This seasonally reoccurring ice cloud has a history of forming along the southwest flank of Arsia Mons. Mars Express and other orbiters have actually likewise found it in 2009, 2012 and 2015.
The size of this standing wave cloud modifications throughout the Martian day. As early morning advances, the cloud grows longer, parallel with the equator. At 1500 kms. in length, it shows up to telescopes in the world.
The Visual Tracking Video camera on-board ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter is keeping a careful eye on the cloud. You can view what it sees at the Mars Cam page on Flickr