There is still no explanation regarding the mysterious Mars plume which was first observed in 2012.
On March 12 2012, scientists noticed how a giant mass appeared in the Martian atmosphere. The blob was located in the southern hemisphere of the red planet and at first it was extending 155 miles from the surface. The mass evolved and reached a distance of more than 600 miles across.
Scientists had the misfortune of bad weather so they were unable to further observe the cloud-like phenomenon until April when it was too late, as the cloud disappeared. Fortune however, smiled upon the scientists and a similar mass appeared 4 days later, only to vanish once again after 10 days.
There are a few theories regarding the formation of this mysterious haze but not solid enough. A recent article published in the Nature journal explains why none of the hypothesis is good enough.
- Martian aurora
Scientists say this haze was 1,000 times more powerful than any of the past observed auroras.
Auroras form as a result of various interactions between charged particles coming from the Sun and Earth’s magnetic field.
But in March 2012, the Sun had a low activity and so the intensity and number of auroras was small. This is why it is very unlikely that an aurora one thousand times as powerful as anything observed before could have been created.
- Volcanic activity
Although there was a theory saying that these blobs were created due to volcanic activity, Mars does not host such phenomena.
- Dust storm
This explanation wasn’t solid enough as dust storms reach a maximum of 37 miles into the atmosphere. Also, if the plume were to be generated by Martian dust storms, it would have been red, but it wasn’t.
- The most relevant explanation
Researchers believe that this cloud was caused by the presence of carbon dioxide and water in the upper part of the atmosphere.
But even this theory has a few shortcomings as there is no record of any clouds, on Mars or Earth, to have risen higher than 62 miles.
The only thing scientists can do for now is to wait and hope the event will occur once more, in order to send a spacecraft like the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) to observe it from a closer distance.
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