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An Extremely Elongated Cloud over Arsia Mons Volcano on Mars: I. Life Cycle

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 2021

J. Hernández-Bernal, A. Sánchez-Lavega, T. del Río-Gaztelurrutia, E. Ravanis, A. Cardesín-Moinelo, K. Connour, D. Tirsch, I. Ordóñez-Etxeberria, B. Gondet, S. Wood, D. Titov, N. M. Schneider, R. Hueso, R. Jaumann, E. Hauber

We report a previously unnoticed annually repeating phenomenon consisting of the daily formation of an extremely elongated cloud extending as far as 1800 km westward from Arsia Mons. It takes place in the Solar Longitude (Ls) range of ~220-320, around the Southern solstice. We study this Arsia Mons Elongated Cloud (AMEC) using images from different orbiters, including ESA Mars Express, NASA MAVEN, Viking 2, MRO, and ISRO Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). We study the AMEC in detail in Martian Year (MY) 34 in terms of Local Time and Ls and find that it exhibits a very rapid daily cycle: the cloud growth starts before sunrise on the western slope of the volcano, followed by a westward expansion that lasts 2.5 hours with a velocity of around 170 m/s in the mesosphere (~45 km over the areoid). The cloud formation then ceases, it detaches from its formation point, and continues moving westward until it evaporates before the afternoon, when most sun-synchronous orbiters observe. Moreover we comparatively study observations from different years (i.e. MYs 29-34) in search of interannual variations and find that in MY33 the cloud exhibits lower activity, whilst in MY34 the beginning of its formation was delayed compared to other years, most likely due to the Global Dust Storm. This phenomenon takes place in a season known for the general lack of clouds on Mars. In this paper we focus on observations, and a theoretical interpretation will be the subject of a separate paper.

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

DOI: 10.1029/2020JE006517

Cite as: arXiv:2103.03919 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2103.03919v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jorge Hernández-Bernal 

[v1] Fri, 5 Mar 2021 20:00:15 UTC (1,822 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/2103.03919

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