Mar 202012

Here’s a stumper for any Mars experts. While processing my Mars images from last night, I found a strange feature over Acidalia (top right of the animation below). I made this 5-frame animation of the green-light images. The feature appears in all the channels, but is most visible in blue and green and least visible in IR. Also, it moves with the planet (ruling out dust motes on the sensor) and seems to rise over the limb. Fog rolled in after this, so there is no additional data later than this. If anyone caught Mars after 2:15UT last night, please check your images… particularly after 2:51UT.

Update Note:  for those of you Mars geographers, the most appropriate geographic location to cite for where the feature resides is Terra Cimmerium.  Acidalia was where I thought it was at first glance, but the measured location is 190 degrees by 43 degrees (South) placing over Terra Cimmerium.

Any ideas or thoughts on what this might be?  E-mail me or use the contact button above to let me know.

Also, here’s what it looks like in RGB…

Another image taken at 2:39ut with insert showing slight detachment of cloud from limb.



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  55 Responses to “A martian stumper….”

  1. […] credit goes to patent attorney by day and amateur astronomer by night Wayne Jaeschke, who first spotted the plumes and posted images of them on his […]

  2. Feb. 19, 2015

    No expert on Martian conditions, but let me suggest that it could be a comet-like object grazing past or hitting Mars. Such events (like the Schumacher-Levy Comet hitting Jupiter) may produce a ‘plume’ like ‘cloud’. One has to explore relevant sky images or plan Mars observations with high resolution imaging to detect the passing object.
    Satyendra Bhandari

  3. A lot of people think there is a completely viable atmosphere on Mars – can I ask do you shoot in a monochrome CCD ?

    how much would it cost you to upgrade your equipment so you can get a better visual of mars?

    I think a kickstarter or an Indegogo woudl net you with the amount needed?

    how thick do you think the cloud cover on Mars is right now, also have you got any 2015 shots?

    hope you haven’t “gone missing”


    Kolin Evans

    • Hi Kolin,

      Mars indeed has an atmosphere. Whether it’s “viable” would depend on the purpose. For humans, it’s composition will not support life, but the various rovers on Mars seem to enjoy it just fine for what they need to do.

      Upgrading equipment would only assist when Mars is visible and high in the sky. Right now, Mars is setting around sunset and is going to pass behind the sun in the next few months. So, even the biggest telescopes in the world would be unable to see Mars again with any substantial degree of resolution until it passes behind the sun (called a conjunction) and moves closer to earth again (when it is opposite the sun and closest to us, we call it an opposition). The next Mars opposition is in 2016, so we’ll have to rely on Mars-based observations until then. Luckily, there are more probes on the way with the ability to study Mars’ upper atmosphere.

      Again, short of using kickstarter funds to establish a dedicated planetary observatory (which would need to be located in a place with generally clear skies and good seeing), the limiting factors for my personal observatory aren’t as much in the equipment as in my relatively high northern latitude (40N) and the weather. That said, I’m open to suggestions about organizing a project to establish a dedicated planetary observatory. I do have ideas about a kickstarter-type campaign that could result in a very productive, (relatively) low cost tool for planetary scientists.

      We’ll have to wait until next year for more Mars photos. In the meantime, I’ll be imaging the other planets that are in the night sky (like Jupiter is now, being just a month past opposition).



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