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Mars NASA Space Science

Amateur Astronomer Spots Strange Cloud Formations On Mars 62

techfun89 writes "Mars has returned to our evening skies as it does every two years. This time it is getting even more attention and buzz than it normally would. Amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke of West Chester Pennsylvania noticed an unusual protrusion in the planet's southern hemisphere, preceding the sunrise terminator. Several things may have contributed to this strange 'cloud formation.' One possibility is a meteoric impact event, where dust was spewed up into the atmosphere. Another could be a major dust storm, which are typical on Mars. Of course, it could be something more mundane; that these observations were caused by a mere optical illusion via a type of glint that occurred due to having just the right combination of lighting and atmospheric conditions. Some suggest volcanic activity, though this is unlikely given it has been 20 to 200 million years since lava has flowed on Mars."
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Amateur Astronomer Spots Strange Cloud Formations On Mars

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  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich AT aol DOT com> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:04AM (#39466187) Journal

    The linked article is fairly contradictory on several points. The glaring one is this:

    " It was first seen on the evening of March 20th. Jaeschke alerted the international Mars observing community about the odd "extension" at 190.5Â east, 43.7Â south, just before the area that rotates into daylight. The odd feature was visible in all color-filtered exposures from near-infrared to blue light. Jaeschke produced the animation below.

    The feature was also reportedly captured by other amateur astronomers over the past few nights. Some astronomers in Europe have seen it as far back as March 12th."

    So, it was NOT first seen on the 20th, but rather on the 12th in Europe, and the guy in West Chester is not the discoverer of it.

  • Why the hell does this article show up in my RSS reader with an ad for "Psychic" -yeah, right- Norah? Can't Google Ads make the distinction between astronomy and astrology?

    • Those who would click on such an ad probably can't, and Google probably knows that.
  • by Centurix ( 249778 ) <centurix.gmail@com> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:39AM (#39466375) Homepage

    It looks like a weather balloon filled with swamp gas...

  • The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million-to-one. I wouldn't worry about it folks.
  • if there is not enough oxygen in the thin Mars atmosphere what if natural gas in the ground occasionally erupts but does not ignite (if there is no ignition or lack of oxygen)
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      Natural gas coming from the ancient buried forests on Mars? Maybe we should drill for oil there!
      • fossils of plants & animals are not the only source of natural gas, carbon is among the most common elements in the universe and that also comes from stars
  • Clearly this has been caused by the rocket engines of a military force, on its way to Earth as we speak! Time to break out the biological weapons!

  • So if we can see it from Earth, shouldn't you be able to see it from one of the various devices we have stationed on/around Mars? Can't we grab the camera and pan around to see if there are any towering pillars of smoke/dust/clouds hanging around?

    •     Proximity is a bitch. Someone in New York can't see a hurricane hitting Florida. To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any working probes on or around Mars at this time. So, you're seeing it.

      • To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any working probes on or around Mars at this time

        Not even close. Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Express are all still operating in orbit. The Opportunity rover is still functioning on the surface, but I suspect it's nowhere near the cloud.

      • To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any working probes on or around Mars at this time.

        Then "the best of your knowledge" is pretty darned poor. It states right there in the article that you clearly didn't read that:

        Hill and his team will be looking at the area of the formation using the Thermal Emission Imaging System or THEMIS, one of the instruments on the NASA Mars Odyssey orbiter. THEMIS will also check out heightened cloud activity around Mars' shield volcanoes as well as around the southern site spotted by the amateurs.

        [Emphasis mine]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps K'Breel, leader of the Council can enlighten us ?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps K'Breel, leader of the Council can enlighten us ?


      There is no huge mass of luminous gas that has erupted from our world, and if there were, it would not be speeding towards the blue planet, across some REDACTED distance of void, invisibly (for REDACTED values of invisibility) hurtling towards it. And if perchance such a thing were to have happened, the cloud would not contain the REDAC

  • As an advanced civilization, the Marsmen have given up higher technology. They're trying to communicate with us by smoke signal.
  • This news story would be much more exciting and interesting if it were the discovery of an ET martian base, possibly for scientific observation of the Earth. Otherwise, it seems to be rather mind numbingly boring.

  • the cloud is formed from all the money Disney burned and lost to make and market John Carter of Mars

  • Witnesses are not sure if it is due to Venus or Uranus. Mars had no comment.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:47AM (#39472703)

    When Mariner 9 (and 2 Soviet Mars orbiters) the planet was having the worst dust storm in decades. The entire surface was basically invisible from orbit, which hasn't happened since.

    The reason I bring this is up is that this storm did not reach above the atmosphere. It was observed from Earth, but caused nothing like the pictures of the recent event - and that was more or less the biggest storm ever seen. So, if this is real, I don't think it's a dust storm.

Disks travel in packs.