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Better Believe It

(18,630 posts)
Sat Mar 24, 2012, 09:33 AM Mar 2012

Mysterious cloud spotted on Mars: This is serious news article, not a joke. [View all]

Mysterious cloud spotted on Mars
By Alan Boyle
March 24, 2012

Amateur astronomers are puzzling over a seemingly anomalous cloud that has shown up on images of Mars taken over the past few days. Is it really a cloud, or a trick of the eye? Does it really extend 150 miles up from the surface, as some of the observers suggest? And what churned up all that stuff, anyway? The amateurs and the pros will be trying to resolve those questions before the phenomenon fades away.

Hill and his colleagues will be looking at the area where the cloud was spotted using the Thermal Emission Imaging System, or THEMIS, which is one of the instruments on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

"In the command upload we're preparing to send today, we've included observations that will hopefully capture some of these recent clouds," Hill wrote in an email. "Our THEMIS camera on Mars Odyssey is capable of acquiring simultaneous visible and thermal infrared images, so our atmospheric researchers are pretty excited about the possibility of not only getting a good look at the cloud structures, but also their temperatures."

THEMIS will be checking out heightened cloud activity around Mars' shield volcanoes as well as around the southern site spotted by the amateurs. Pictures from a camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, called the Mars Color Imager, or MARCI, might provide further clues about the southern cloud feature. And amateur astronomers are sending out the alert for observers to keep a close watch on the Red Planet over the coming days.

Amateur astrophotographer Wayne Jaeschke captured this image of a "terminator projection" rising up from the edge of the Martian disk at about the 1 o'clock position on March 22. The inset photo is a 200 percent enlargement of the region around the projection.

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Has anyone edhopper Mar 2012 #1
It happened once. It can happen again. nt onehandle Mar 2012 #2
I'm not worried. I have a cold right now. Johnny Rico Mar 2012 #5
He's coming baaaack.. Owlet Mar 2012 #12
Wow, maybe the martian atmosphere is much more dynamic than thought.nt Ecumenist Mar 2012 #3
The photos that amateur astronomers can take these days are amazing. Johnny Rico Mar 2012 #4
Galileo would have been thrilled. lonestarnot Mar 2012 #17
I remember the photos in my astronomy books from the '70s, Johnny Rico Mar 2012 #22
Back to give some credit where credit is due. :) lonestarnot Mar 2012 #28
It's the aliens. They're getting tired of Mars being downwind of Earth and all our Santorum. Zalatix Mar 2012 #6
Mars farted. Give it some dignity here. HopeHoops Mar 2012 #7
Oh no! The Martians have finally discovered the A-bomb recipe? DippyDem Mar 2012 #8
volcanic activity? certainot Mar 2012 #9
They're coming to take revenge for the John Carter movie. n/t Ian David Mar 2012 #10
HAHA!!! Rex Mar 2012 #19
Biggest movie flop ever. Odin2005 Mar 2012 #26
How can it be a flop? I thought it was in 3-D. n/t Ian David Mar 2012 #27
Kim Jong Un is testing missiles out there. No worries. :) n/t DippyDem Mar 2012 #11
It doesn't look like a cloud. It looks like either a dark sphere detaching from Mars' surface... Peace Patriot Mar 2012 #13
Really? You saw all that? rusty fender Mar 2012 #14
Man...you got a lot from just a few pixels! Johnny Rico Mar 2012 #23
the science group had a thread on this yesterday Motown_Johnny Mar 2012 #15
It's bachmann testing her secret stash of light bulbs. n/t deacon Mar 2012 #16
Could be impact ejecta Paulie Mar 2012 #18
Maybe you could enlighten us as to what the 'serious' part of this is. randome Mar 2012 #20
The Mars cloud part. I have no interest in your legs. What is it that you can't understand? Better Believe It Mar 2012 #24
Wormsign. Codeine Mar 2012 #21
prolly just a small dust storm. Odin2005 Mar 2012 #25
I'm not saying it's aliens slackmaster Mar 2012 #29
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