Mar 212012
 

It appears that numerous imagers captured the features I discovered yesterday and brought to the attention of the amateur community.  It’s good to know that I’m not just seeing things!

Here are a few more images to help ponder the question of whether it’s a high-altitude water-ice cloud of some sort or perhaps a dust plume.  I think it looks like a mushroom cloud from an impact, but that’s just what I’m seeing.  We’ll learn more as those with more experience with Martian clouds chime-in.

Here is one of the best green-light images of the feature.  I a have a lot of data to sort through and will update.

and another RGB image from 24 hours later with an inset showing the feature enlarge and enhanced.

I’ll keep updating here, rather than individual posts, for the benefit of those collecting the data for scientific study.  This is quite an exciting event and now that data is being provided by accomplished amateurs and experts from all over, we’re realizing what an unique and interesting phenomena we’re seeing!

Here’s one from the 19th (the day before) showing the “spot” as a dot (famed Mercury imager John Boudreau calls it a “nipple”) in the southern hemisphere.

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  7 Responses to “The strange cloud on Mars….”

  1. Im sure whatever it is, Nasa will show absolutely no interest. They don’t want to portray Mars as a planet currently active. What happened to all that detected Methane in Mars Atmosphere..all quiet on that front eh?:)

    • Actually… quite to the contrary. I was in communication with researchers from NASA, JPL, the Space Science Institute shortly after the amateur community made them aware of the event and they allocated any and every resources they could muster to take closer look. The only difference between those guys and us amateurs is that they do this stuff for a living and, hence, must meet the directives of their employers. We amateurs get to pick and choose whatever interests us, without having to justify how we use our resources or time.

      • WE are their employers! (I thought..) But they certainly don’t go out of their way to look at things of most interest to us ‘normal’ people (non scientific) So lets see how much help you get on this, they have a craft in orbit do you think they will swivel the camera to take a look if its feasible?
        And the Methane question was never answered by them, in fact I have heard little on this mystery for several years.
        If not for people like you I bet there’s a lot of things we would never find out!

        • They sent commands to two satellites around Mars, last Friday (before news of this observation ever made it out of the amateur community into the mainstream press.) I can certainly appreciate how it might seem that NASA and other space agencies seem a little detached from certain things the the average citizen might want to look at, but it’s a big universe and from the standpoint of a knowledgeable citizen, I can tell you that I think they do a pretty good job of juggling dwindling resources to do quality science.

          What we really need is to pressure our government to increase, not decrease, funding to scientific research and space exploration. Not watching shrimp on treadmills.

          I’m not sure of the methane mystery, but if you post a link to it I will see if I can pour through some sources and see what I can find. NASA does indeed respect the fact that it’s funded for the benefit of the American people, so they put all of their data online to search through once the principle investigators that acquired the data have completed their analysis. Check out the Hubble legacy archive or HiRISE data and you can look at through a virtual universe of never-before-seen data from space. Many amateurs do their research through such data and come-up with interesting findings 🙂

          As for the role of amateurs in science. Thanks for your comment. Amateurs will always have a lot to offer the professional, scientific community. If you were able to witness how responsive and respectful they’ve been to us amateurs first-hand, like I have this past week, I think you’d understand how much the professional, scientific community appreciates amateurs and is as aware of their contribution as anyone 🙂

          Take a look at this article from NASA on the great Saturn storms from last year.

          http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/ESOSaturnstorm.html

          Note that the top-left image is from an accomplished amateur (not to mention great guy and friend of mine) Trevor Barry of Broken Hill, Australia. Every year there are many articles published on space science that include amateurs as contributors and co-authors.

  2. Wow I hope they will give this the attention it deserves, you could be the discoverer of something GREAT! Here is a link to an article about the methane, its very interesting because it seems only 2 things could probably replenish it, active volcanism (Mars is supposed to be geologically dead?) or Biology..so either way it could be interesting:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7829315.stm

    • Thanks. I read it and do recall this. My understanding is the the Mars Surveyor Lander (MSL) that’s presently en route to Mars will be capable of gathering more data on this phenomena.

      The problem with certain observations on other planets is that it can take years to get the resources in-place to follow-up on them. That’s probably the case here. They noticed methane, but had no good way to figure out the source.

  3. Great site and awesome pictures! Thanks

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