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WayneJ
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Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud
      #5133763 - 03/21/12 02:10 PM

Hi all,

Here's a 5-frame animation in green-light of something I imaged on the evening of March 20 (2:15-2:51ut, March 20) -- that's two nights ago. I had no idea what this was and after receiving information from a number of sources, it's most likely a high-altitude water-ice cloud over the Acidalia region. These are not particularly uncommon and have been imaged on occasion before.

Also, I know of at least one other imager in the eastern U.S. that captured the phenomena last night, so if you captured this CM in your images, you should check careful to see if you got it too. Note that it shows up best in green and blue light and becomes nearly invisible in IR (at least from my images.)

Click here for the Animation (750k)

Also, here's an RGB image (around 2:51ut) showing the feature on the upper right side. I haven't processed all the data from the 20th or from last night (when I captured it again), but I think I have some better images showing the cloud over the limb with a slight separation from the planet. The seeing was running in the 8-9/10 range on the evening of the 19th and 7-8/10 last night.



Regards,

Wayne


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john rozakis
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/09/11

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5133804 - 03/21/12 02:30 PM

Wow Wayne ! Great capture !

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James W.
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 05/14/07

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: john rozakis]
      #5133820 - 03/21/12 02:38 PM Attachment (298 downloads)

Here is my blue channel image from last night (21st) taken at 0258UT that shows your cloud at about the 12 O'clock posistion. I stretched it with levels some to bring it out better.

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swalker
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Reged: 01/22/07

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: James W.]
      #5133828 - 03/21/12 02:45 PM

Excellent Wayne- very odd phenomena.

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James W.
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 05/14/07

Loc: Maryland
Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5133853 - 03/21/12 03:03 PM Attachment (123 downloads)

Here is another blue channel taken at 0307UT on the 21st and a link to an animation of both the 0258 and 0307 images.

http://howardastro.info/halgal/main.php?g2_itemId=12082&g2_imageViewsIndex=1


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CPellier
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 08/07/10

Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: James W.]
      #5133899 - 03/21/12 03:35 PM

Wayne and James : very good work ! Especially, good B images

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Space Cowboy
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/30/10

Loc: Cheshire, UK
Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: CPellier]
      #5133961 - 03/21/12 04:10 PM

Incredible resolution! Wow!

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Rutilus
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/17/10

Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Space Cowboy]
      #5134096 - 03/21/12 05:24 PM

Very good captuere, interesting feature.

Edited by Rutilus (03/21/12 05:27 PM)


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Yuri_18
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Reged: 07/29/07

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Rutilus]
      #5134119 - 03/21/12 05:34 PM

Incredible!!

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lcd1080
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 06/03/10

Loc: Maryland, USA
Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Yuri_18]
      #5134204 - 03/21/12 06:08 PM

I measured the height of the cloud based on the known diameter of the planet and the number of pixels that the cloud extends above the surface. The height is approximately 100 kilometers which is interesting because that's the maximum height to which particulate matter rises during planet wide dust storms. From what I've read gaseous clouds don't rise to anywhere near that altitude which is the very top of the Martian atmosphere.

Pete Nerbun

Edited by lcd1080 (03/21/12 06:10 PM)


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Kecktastic
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5134207 - 03/21/12 06:09 PM

Very impressive Wayne & I see James has also captured the same feature, well done James.

Most excellent "G" channel data Wayne and nice animation, thinking back, I recall Asi also captured a similar feature a few weeks ago, though not as prominent as in your "G" channel.

Top Stuff.
Regards
Trevor


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JimP
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Kecktastic]
      #5134218 - 03/21/12 06:12 PM Attachment (217 downloads)

Here is one of my images from last night plus the blue channel just to confirm.

best,

Jim Phillips


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JimP
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Loc: South Carolina
Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: JimP]
      #5134220 - 03/21/12 06:14 PM Attachment (208 downloads)

Here's the color image.
TMB 8" F/9
Good seeing.

Jim


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JimP
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: JimP]
      #5134224 - 03/21/12 06:16 PM

Not sure what it is. Ice cloud? Perhaps but if it is it certainly is not usual nor is it common. This would be Highly unusual for an ice cloud.

best,

Jim Phillips


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JimP
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/22/03

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: JimP]
      #5134240 - 03/21/12 06:22 PM

Here is what Richard McKim of the BAA e-mailed me after I sent him my images:

"If it's real then it's staggering! I am looking for other images at the same time but thanks in advance. A dust storm at that location at this season would be unheard of. Have you eliminated the possibility of some filter defect by rotation during the session, perhaps, or was it only noticed at processing?
All the best
Richard"


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Lsummers
sage


Reged: 07/08/11

Loc: Dover, DE
Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: JimP]
      #5134242 - 03/21/12 06:22 PM

We've seen high-altitude water-ice clouds on Mars in the past. Never to my knowledge has one so clearly been captured in ground-based amateur imagery. Certainly a rare and exciting event.

Well done Wayne! Thank you for spotting this and bringing it to everyone's attention!

Larry


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Bird
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5134248 - 03/21/12 06:25 PM

Well done to Wayne and the others that captured this phenomenon! Shows that there is still a lot to be discovered on nearby planets...

cheers, Bird


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JimP
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Reged: 04/22/03

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Bird]
      #5134274 - 03/21/12 06:45 PM

Whoops, here is a second e-mail from Richard McKim:

"Dear Jim:

Thank you. In fact I misunderstood your ......-18LTL image, as I was looking more at the large light area you had artificially highlighted rather than the terminator projection. Before your blue image arrived on its own I had assumed, from quickly reading, that the artificial area was the new feature! It is all perfectly reasonable-looking now that I have your blue image and, although we don't see much phase visually yet there will be a slight and growing phase defect on the following side.

Although quite evident the projection is no doubt standing out even more because the processing of any image has caused the terminator to darker somewhat (and in the case of Venus to recede) to leave the projection more visible. There is a history of high latitude martian projections. I am thinking of certain HST images from the 1990s, and visual observers have certainly detected many, and I can recall quite a few examples even in my own Mars reports. I don't think our amateur images were good enough to catch them before 2003. I have examples in the 2003 BAA Mars report which is posted as a pdf at www.britastro.org\mars...............

This particular one you have caught so nicely is certainly on the large side, and I hope you will get the chance to repeat the observation at the same CM over several nights. And that brings me to ask if you can compute the CM and put it on each image because it does save looking it up. From the position of Propontis with regard to the morning terminator I would say that the attached image by Efrain Morales is really pretty similar to yours in CM but is dated two days earlier (March 19d 02h 31m UT). I notice that he shows the same effect but it is less visible. It is easily missed unless one enlarges the image.

I will of course search for others. I receive a lot of material which is not uploaded to any of the image archiving websites.

Let me know what you think.I am off to bed as it is getting late here and I must teach first thing in the morning!

With regards

Richard"


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Jim Chung
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: JimP]
      #5134300 - 03/21/12 07:01 PM Attachment (159 downloads)

Just wanted to confirm that I also captured this strange feature last night which I thought was a processing artefact.


Jim

Edited by Jim Chung (03/21/12 07:03 PM)


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rumples riot
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Jim Chung]
      #5134353 - 03/21/12 07:31 PM

Yet another land mark breached in planetary imaging. Well done guys impressive work.

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Mike Phillips
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: rumples riot]
      #5134495 - 03/21/12 08:49 PM

Hey JimP, how'd you get clear, t-storm free skies? We've had some rain or thunder nearly every 6 hours for 4 days straight now!

WayneJ, that is very awesome!!!

Mike


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Mike Phillips]
      #5134543 - 03/21/12 09:28 PM

Thanks all for your comments and contributions. This is certainly an interesting event and the more data that's contributed will certainly be helpful to the experts in sorting-out what we might be looking at. The prevailing theories are an orographic cloud at an unprecedented altitude and a dust plume (although that would be quite an plume!)

Here's another image from the day prior to noticing the cloud (for lack of a better term at present) with the phenomena appearing as a "nipple" while transiting the disc.



Wayne


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Az Frank
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Reged: 10/18/08

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5134622 - 03/21/12 10:42 PM

Great catch of an amazing event Wayne! Congrats to you and Jim and others! Great stuff!

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Flying_Fox
sage


Reged: 09/12/05

Loc: Halifax, NS Canada
Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5134732 - 03/21/12 11:44 PM Attachment (108 downloads)

Excellent results everybody! Since I was imaging Mars at the same time between 2:34 and 3:11 UTC, I just quickly processed the green channel from one of the brighter AVIs and can also confirm that it is there. Since this is from NexStar 8i SE the cloud is very small, but noticeable.

Here is my green channel from March 20, 2012 03:11 UTC, overprocessed in Registax to highlight the feature. I might try to do the animation too when I have time.


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swalker
Imaging Editor - Sky & Telescope
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Reged: 01/22/07

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Flying_Fox]
      #5135020 - 03/22/12 08:09 AM

I suspect this is a rare trick of lighting, not a cloud. I measured the position of the feature in WinJUPOS, and (if I did the measurements correctly) it appears to correspond to the highlands that surround the large Martian craters Newton and Copernicus. Thus the area in question gets sunlight before the surrounding region at only this time of year. Additionally, its appearance is exaggerated due to sharpening; the area of our planetary images most distorted by sharpening is the limb.
The trick of lighting also explains its appearance in all wavelengths from near-IR to Blue.
I could be wrong, so feel free to poke holes in my hypothesis.


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5135131 - 03/22/12 09:43 AM

Quote:

The trick of lighting also explains its appearance in all wavelengths from near-IR to Blue.




I've been working with a group from my alma mater (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). They've been studying my data and gathering what they can with their 36" reflection (although they've been battling clouds and seeing.) They're suggesting that the light curve is strongest between blue and green, indicative of a dust-like phenomena. That doesn't preclude a cloud of some-sort, but they've all but ruled-out water-ice or CO2 because that would be brighter in IR than at shorter wavelengths.

Just to poke a hole... if it were a lighting phenomena, then what's being lit and how is it moving with the planet? The lighting would be constant with sun-angle, wouldn't it?

Just my thoughts

Wayne


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Lsummers
sage


Reged: 07/08/11

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5135268 - 03/22/12 10:59 AM

Quote:

The trick of lighting also explains its appearance in all wavelengths from near-IR to Blue.
I could be wrong, so feel free to poke holes in my hypothesis.




Do you have any IR images to show that it is of equal brightness as in UV/BLUE? The spectral images I've seen show it brighter in blue/green than in red and IR, after the sensitivity of the sensor and filter transmission at the relevant wavelength is factored-in.

Further to Wayne's point, how exactly would this "trick" of light work? Light must diffract or reflect to be seen, so I surmise that you suggest that light is reflecting off a surface or low-level cloud feature that is past the terminator but above the horizon due to the phase angle? Not impossible, if the feature were actually a dust storm being lit after coming across the limb but prior to entering direct sunlight. The question of the apparent altitude arises, but I don't see that we can place much credence in the measurements taken with the cloud so close to the limb, given the effects of sharpeneing and light diffraction around the limb.

Whatever it is, it's obviously quite unique and will make for very interesting further study. I would not be surprised if it did indeed turn-out to be some sort of storm cloud (dust more likely than water/CO2, though) that creates the illusion of a much larger feature due to the lighting. The only serious flaw in this is Wayne's March 19, 0255ut image that shows the feature nearly invisible in IR while transiting the lighted portion of the disk, but readily apparent in green and blue.

But since we can only see "light", everything we see is indeed a "trick" of lighting.

Keep up the great work, all!

Larry


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swalker
Imaging Editor - Sky & Telescope
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Reged: 01/22/07

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5135293 - 03/22/12 11:16 AM

Guys, picture sunrise on some lunar craters. Some rims are visible before the median (average) sunrise terminator shines upon them due to their being taller than the surrounding regions. We aren't looking beyond the edge of the planet, just past the median sunrise terminator.

I didn't claim it was of equal brightness in all wavelengths, just that is visible in all wavelengths.

The area on the surface where this is occurring is the highlands that flank the large martian crater Newton. Go to Google Mars and check out the topographical map. Thats how this is rotating with the planet Wayne. And remember, you simply cannot make accurate elevation measurements along the edge of sharpened planetary images, because the edge is most prone to distortion artifacts.

The same anomaly was imaged in 2003: http://www.hida.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~cmo/cmomk/2003/031108/My08Nov03.jpg

Interesting, though I'm sticking with my simple explanation.


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5135405 - 03/22/12 12:21 PM

I tend to agree with you Sean, particularly given how the "apparent" altitude of the phenomena seems to make sense. Also, knowing Larry as well as I do, I think he's agreeing with you Sean You'll just never get him to say that in so many words.

Wayne


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5135440 - 03/22/12 12:40 PM

Isn't there anyone at NASA that can id this feature or have they been laid off? What about the mars orbiter? Still functioning?

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Howie Glatter
Vendor


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5135454 - 03/22/12 12:52 PM

"I could be wrong, so feel free to poke holes in my hypothesis."

I have no expertise or sharp implements to even venture an opinion; I just wanted to thank you for using the word hypothesis correctly :-)


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Lsummers
sage


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5135523 - 03/22/12 01:36 PM

Quote:

Interesting, though I'm sticking with my simple explanation.




Wayne's correct. I do agree with you in that there is a trick of lighting going on here. Both the Miyazaki image and 1997 HST image suspiciously show a similar phenomena between the terminator and the limb. However, if it were this simple (and I do believe that the simplest explanation is the best place to start!) then we should see this phenomena more often.

In each of the three instances where this limb "cloud" appears, the altitude of the phenomena needed to be sunlight while past the terminator is unlikely to allow us to conclude that it's a surface feature -- to be sure, though, we should consult topographical maps and see if we find a candidate feature. If we do not, then we should look for topographical features that could cause a dust storm to give us the altitude we're looking for. I suspect, Sean, that you are indeed correct in your assertion, but when we investigate we are likely to find a somewhat more rare situation -- that the topography is causing a transient event (dust storm, cloud, etc.) to be illuminated in a manner that gives the impression of a much higher altitude feature. Also, I think the spectral analysis we have so far suggests that there is some dust involved here.

Larry


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Rick Woods
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5135536 - 03/22/12 01:44 PM

Quote:

I suspect this is a rare trick of lighting, not a cloud. I measured the position of the feature in WinJUPOS, and (if I did the measurements correctly) it appears to correspond to the highlands that surround the large Martian craters Newton and Copernicus. Thus the area in question gets sunlight before the surrounding region at only this time of year. Additionally, its appearance is exaggerated due to sharpening; the area of our planetary images most distorted by sharpening is the limb.




Hmm. The name John Mellish springs to mind...


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Lsummers
sage


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5135554 - 03/22/12 01:55 PM

Quote:

Hmm. The name John Mellish springs to mind...




Why? Mellish is probably best known for his claims of observing martian craters (using the Yerkes 40" refractor) for those who are not immediately familiar with him.

Larry


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CPellier
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 08/07/10

Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5135589 - 03/22/12 02:08 PM

I would just not go for the dust storm hypotesis. This feature's albedo (those features ?) is clearly more visible in short wavelenghts (blue/green) that in red/IR - just the contrary that what we should expect for dust.

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Lsummers
sage


Reged: 07/08/11

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: CPellier]
      #5135686 - 03/22/12 03:18 PM

Quote:

I would just not go for the dust storm hypotesis. This feature's albedo (those features ?) is clearly more visible in short wavelenghts (blue/green) that in red/IR - just the contrary that what we should expect for dust.




Not at a low southern latitude during the current martian seasonal cycle. Any dust being ejected high into the atmosphere is being partially obscured by frozen CO2, which of course radiates more strongly in the UV. NASA published a great deal of research on this subject in the 1990s.


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CPellier
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 08/07/10

Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5135749 - 03/22/12 03:58 PM

Thanks for the info ! I did not know that Larry...
However I have again another remark against the dust idea
It's now proven that Europe has imaged that cloud in mid-march at the same location. Damian Peach has just announced he found it clearly on backlogged data - and I do see it as well on my images from the same day (not published at the time).
Local repetition on a long time scale is not compatible with dust. However, it is definitely for white clouds.


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karlo
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: CPellier]
      #5135936 - 03/22/12 05:59 PM

Magnificent does not do justice !!
If there was a Nobel Prize for Landmark Planetary Imaging work, you ought to have your name on the medal. Would never have thought it possible -OUTSTANDING !


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David Rivas
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: karlo]
      #5136012 - 03/22/12 06:46 PM

Wayne... fantastic job!!!
You were out there at the right moment, ok, but you did a very good job capturing and processing (without mentioning your analisis of the phenomenon).
Congratulations!!!
Best regards,
David


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: corpusse]
      #5136204 - 03/22/12 08:32 PM

Quote:

Isn't there anyone at NASA that can id this feature or have they been laid off? What about the mars orbiter? Still functioning?




Indeed there is. We heard some initial feedback from a member of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter imaging team this evening. His initial thought was a high altitude haze cloud (they have imaged them up around 80km), but was going to check their data and see if they could correlate the observations from amateurs (there have been lots of them!) with their data and see if they can find images corresponding to the location where the phenomena is observed.

So no, there was no initial explanation... but they'll be checking their data to see there is an actual phenomena on Mars that this corresponds to.

Regards,

Wayne


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lcd1080
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Reged: 06/03/10

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5136302 - 03/22/12 09:54 PM

My goodness we "amateurs" are working with JPL to solve this mystery with help from one of our nation's Mars orbiting cameras. That's a wonderful accomplishment Wayne!

Pete Nerbun

Edited by lcd1080 (03/22/12 10:07 PM)


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Lsummers
sage


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: CPellier]
      #5136440 - 03/22/12 11:22 PM

Quote:

Thanks for the info ! I did not know that Larry...
However I have again another remark against the dust idea
It's now proven that Europe has imaged that cloud in mid-march at the same location. Damian Peach has just announced he found it clearly on backlogged data - and I do see it as well on my images from the same day (not published at the time).
Local repetition on a long time scale is not compatible with dust. However, it is definitely for white clouds.




I certainly must agree with that. This is a very interesting puzzle. I hope the MRO is able to shed more light on the subject.

Larry


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astrovienna
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: lcd1080]
      #5136494 - 03/23/12 12:13 AM Attachment (77 downloads)

I confess I looked at this thread and said, "Not a chance!" Then I processed my blue light image from March 21 0314UT. What the . . . !

Kevin

Edited by astrovienna (03/23/12 12:15 AM)


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astrovienna
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: astrovienna]
      #5136516 - 03/23/12 12:33 AM Attachment (69 downloads)

And here are the red and green captures from four and two minutes earlier, respectively. I can just see it in the red image, but it's certainly far more obvious in green and blue.

Kevin


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Rick Woods
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5136614 - 03/23/12 03:08 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Hmm. The name John Mellish springs to mind...




Why? Mellish is probably best known for his claims of observing martian craters (using the Yerkes 40" refractor) for those who are not immediately familiar with him.




You see no connection?
Both instances may be (if Sean is correct) Earth-based detections of relief features (not just albedo features) on Mars. This doesn't happen every day!


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Lsummers
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5136773 - 03/23/12 08:29 AM

Ah, yes. Sorry Rick. I see the connection now!

Also! Very nice capture ther, Kevin. Good showing of the feature!

Larry


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: lcd1080]
      #5137167 - 03/23/12 01:29 PM

Quote:

My goodness we "amateurs" are working with JPL to solve this mystery with help from one of our nation's Mars orbiting cameras. That's a wonderful accomplishment Wayne!





Thanks everyone for your interest and input. This is certainly a fascinating phenomena and I'm hopeful that we'll learn what we've been looking at.

Pete, I just wanted to note that professionals have been relying on amateurs throughout the history of astronomy But more recently, and perhaps without as much attention as they deserve, expert and dedicated imagers like Don Parker, Damian Peach, Chris Go, Anthony Wesley, Trevor Barry, Paul Maxon and Chris Pellier (just to name a few, so please don't be upset if I didn't name your personal favorite or if I left your name of the list) have been providing valuable data and observations to professional researchers. In many cases, their observations have been the basis for turning professional resources such as the HST, Cassini probe, and now the MRO to bear on an interesting observation.

We amateurs may not have the raw "horsepower" of any of the professional research observatories... but when you put us together en masse, as happened over the past few days, we can combine our collective power of observation and confirmation to justify the use of the valuable time on professional resources. So, anytime an event like this happens, it's certainly a testament to the collective dedication of a large number of people.

Thanks!

Wayne


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5137205 - 03/23/12 01:47 PM

Excellent work Wayne! I just got back in town and holy cow there was a lot to review! Managed to catch your projection last night as well. Pretty cool!

Glenn


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: DesertRat]
      #5137980 - 03/23/12 10:51 PM

Thanks Glenn. Now that they've got Themis and Marci looking at this, we might learn what it is!

Wayne


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ZielkeNightsky
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5137988 - 03/23/12 10:55 PM

Outstanding work. I'm simply amazed.

Thanks - thanks -thanks for sharing...


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: ZielkeNightsky]
      #5138037 - 03/23/12 11:30 PM Attachment (66 downloads)

Blue channel image taken last night under deteriorating seeing conditions. I had to push this alot, but believe i caught Waynes feature at about the 1 O'clock position. Image was taken at 0502UT on March 23rd.

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Freddy WILLEMS
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: James W.]
      #5138161 - 03/24/12 01:03 AM

Nice James !

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Freddy WILLEMS]
      #5138164 - 03/24/12 01:06 AM

Thanks Freddy! I thought this was all I had gotten last night until I had time to process the earlier runs and got the projection in my color image!

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5138262 - 03/24/12 03:19 AM

Wayne,

That is the most exciting picture of Mars I ever saw

This year's Mars apparition is full of beautiful detail. Just love all those white clouds contrasting with the orange planetary disk full of surface detail.


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Lsummers
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Erik Bakker]
      #5138457 - 03/24/12 08:42 AM

Nice images, James. Looks like the Themis data is starting to rule things out. We should know more soon.

Larry


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commhealy
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5138742 - 03/24/12 11:37 AM

Could this be the aftermath of an impact event?

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: rumples riot]
      #5138783 - 03/24/12 11:58 AM

Rumples isnt it ever? With the advent of better and better imaging technology its things like this that just rear their head. Its wild. Planetary imaging is truly a progressive thing.

That cloud blows me away - 3D effect over the distant landscape below.


Probably the most compelling thing Ive seen presented here on CN the entire apparition.

Pete


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5138990 - 03/24/12 01:56 PM

Thanks again, all.. and that's unlikely commhealy. The THEMIS data for the area isn't showing enough dust in the upper atmosphere to suggest a dust plume from an impact.

The most likely scenario at this time is a major mesospheric cloud being caught in sunlight where the sun had rise at the cloud but not on the underlying ground.

This was seen at the Mars Pathfinder site where these clouds were seen in about an hour before sunrise:
http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn9869/dn9869-1_450.jpg, according to one expert analysis. That analysis was questioned by another expert due to the lack of CO2 content at the altitude where this needed to have occurred to be visible in the manner that it was. So, we continue to wait for more MARCI and THEMIS data.

Wayne


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Lsummers
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5140251 - 03/25/12 10:47 AM

Another interesting theory is being propounded regarding auroral activity on Mars resulting from CME impacts. If just FYI, in case anyone wants to look at the CME paths from Spaceweather and compare with the dates of earliest and greatest visiblity.

Larry


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5140322 - 03/25/12 11:29 AM

Aurora is highly unlikely to be the culprit; Mars doesn't have a global magnetic Like Earths, thus Aurora wouldn't be concentrated near the poles, if there is any aurora activity on Mars at all:
http://mgs-mager.gsfc.nasa.gov/kids/magfield.html

Secondly, this feature is very localized and has shown up at the same time each day on Mars for at least 11 days in a row.


Edited by swalker (03/25/12 11:36 AM)


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Lsummers
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5140402 - 03/25/12 12:17 PM

Hello Sean,

I don't think that this theory is too far-fetched. If you compare this map of Mars' magnetic field and crustal magnetism:

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/mgs_plates.html

with the location of the observations and energy of the particles that may have been buffeting Mars' upper atmosphere at the times/dates of observations taken by various observers around the world, then the possiblity seems at least worthy of further study.

I'm hesitant to assess the likelihood at this point, but I found the suggestion intriguing.

Larry


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: swalker]
      #5140608 - 03/25/12 02:09 PM

I remember when the Mars Global Surveyor was aerobraking to reduce its orbit size; there was almost no atmosphere to decelerate the spacecraft at the 120 km altitude so if this feature is some sort of carbon dioxide cloud it would likely be no higher than 90 km. Hopefully we'll know more tomorrow when the work week for the MARCI team begins anew.

Pete Nerbun


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: lcd1080]
      #5141187 - 03/25/12 08:53 PM

Indeed Pete... makes this all very interesting

By the way, thanks to our trusty Mod Richard McC for stickying this thread. I would ask everyone to PLEASE update this thread with your observations of Mars with CMs between about 135 and 180 for anytime since opposition and as we go forward. Of particular interest are those around March 11 and March 20 (UT, of course).

thanks!

Wayne


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Freddy WILLEMS
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5141237 - 03/25/12 09:22 PM Attachment (50 downloads)

Hi Wayne and everybody,
Just add my images from March 20, 2012 09:28:37 UTC. This is almost 7 hours LATER when Wayne spotted the cloud on the limb of his image posted here [March 20 (2:15-2:51 ut, March 20)].... So actually the cloud should have been rotated into view after that first observation. I can not see anything, I hope MRO or MARCI can give some closure here.


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Freddy WILLEMS]
      #5141249 - 03/25/12 09:39 PM

Hi Wayne, have a hard time signing in into CN all the time Wonder what that can be ?? Any way if you look closely at the MRO's of March 12 - March 18, then yoy will see (on the bottom) de very bright cloud, I guess that must be the location also where you spotted it.

http://www.msss.com/msss_images/latest_weather.html

The cloud falls almost out of the picture, on the bottom of the animation, but it seems to be really bright.


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Freddy WILLEMS]
      #5141360 - 03/25/12 10:59 PM Attachment (52 downloads)

Thought I'd also add my March 23rd color shot of the feature to this thread.

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5142812 - 03/26/12 07:20 PM

Quote:

With the advent of better and better imaging technology its things like this that just rear their head. Its wild. Planetary imaging is truly a progressive thing.




Pete,
I think it's a combination of evolving technology and alert observer. Note that several people recorded the event; but Wayne was the only one who was paying enough attention to actually see it and question it. IMO the observer is the outstanding part of this event.

I wonder what it will turn out to be? If Sean Walker is correct about sunlight on the highlands over the terminator, this is a truly epochal event! Mellish saw a similar thing 97 years ago, but couldn't convince anyone. Here, the evidence is plain for all to see.

Wayne, my lad, you are travelling in extremely rarified strata now!


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5143033 - 03/26/12 10:35 PM

Thank you, Rick! That's indeed high praise and I greatly appreciate it!

And while I wait for the winds to die down a bit (it's clear as bell and blowing a gale outside right now), I went back and found this from three nights before I reported my first observation of the terminator projection. It's very small, but I reprocessed the data a few times and think it's as reliable as it can be. Whether or not there's truly something on this one, it shows the same coordinate on the disc.



Regards,

Wayne


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tim53
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: corpusse]
      #5143176 - 03/27/12 12:06 AM

Quote:

Isn't there anyone at NASA that can id this feature or have they been laid off? What about the mars orbiter? Still functioning?




Well, I can tell you that it's not Acidalia, which is in the northern hemisphere. It's over Mare Terrhenum. Since this is a low albedo feature, a limb cloud would be expected to stand out in contrast and maybe appear to be higher than it really is.

The images are really nice, to be sure! I wish mine showed as much detail!

-Tim.


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: tim53]
      #5143206 - 03/27/12 12:24 AM

I do see it in images I took on Saturday evening, though. Barely.

Freddy: Your image may show the cloud (over Hellas), if it's a morning limb feature that dissipates as the sun rises, since Mare Terrhenum is approaching the meridian in your images.

MARCI might not see anything, since it is a global image assembled from synoptic image swaths taken in the spacecraft's "afternoon" orbit. So, if the orbiter is in a 2pm orbit, the global view will be assembled from "orange slices" all at local 2pm.

No morning limb shots. For that view, you need earth-based images!

-Tim.


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Freddy WILLEMS
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: tim53]
      #5143234 - 03/27/12 12:57 AM

Thanks Tim,
Tonight there should be (also) a good opportunity for the Pacific and Australian astronomers. It's windy here and it was cr3ppy all night yesterday. I hope Chris Go is standing by to give it a . . . try also...


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Freddy WILLEMS]
      #5143747 - 03/27/12 11:11 AM

I'm looking forward to what you, Chris, and the guys down-under get as the spot turns your way, Freddy. The CM I'm finding most interesting are from about 140-160.

Tim, the first set of MARCI data get was exactly as you suggested. Mike Wolff even mentioned that the best diurnal cloud data is what we provide from here on earth (like Chris Pellier's recent animation of the clouds over OM.)

I did errantly state the cloud was over Acidalia when I first posted I think I was a little eager to post and didn't think. Based on the measured coordinates, the best estimate for the location we've been using us Terra Cimmerium or Electris (190 degrees by -43.5 degrees.)

I'm still thinking that the visibility of this phenomena is somehow related to the CMEs that hit Mars just prior to the observations on the 11th and 20th/21st. The MGS map of Mars' magnetic field shows the strongest "umbrella" exactly where we estimate the observation was located and in each instance, a strong CME from AR1429 has just hit Mars. That would be consistent with the altitude, location (and lack of movement thereof), and possibly even the prominence of the spectrum toward the blue-end (strongest in green in my data.)

If the Sun would kindly toss an X-class flare and large CME at Mars before it gets too far away, it would be nice Maybe AR1429 will make another pass.. from the looks of it, it's still kicking.

Wayne


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tim53
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5144259 - 03/27/12 04:30 PM

Careful what you wish for! Opportunity is on Mars, and Curiosity is approaching!

I'm not sure that the remanent magnetic fields in the martian crust are strong enough to have an effect on solar particles. I would think that ionization of the upper atmosphere would be more likely, but I'm a geologist and not an atmosphere expert.

-Tim.


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: tim53]
      #5144445 - 03/27/12 06:30 PM

Quote:

I'm not sure that the remanent magnetic fields in the martian crust are strong enough to have an effect on solar particles. I would think that ionization of the upper atmosphere would be more likely, but I'm a geologist and not an atmosphere expert.




The real question is whether they might be visible from space. Mars indeed has a sort of aurora:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMLQ71DU8E_index_0.html

Also, note this paragraph from that article:

Quote:

SPICAM detected light emissions in the southern hemisphere on Mars, during night-time observations in the region corresponding to 177 East and 52 South. The total size of the emission region is about 30 km across, possibly about 8 km high.




We measured that Mars cloud phenomena at 190 east, 43 south. That measurement, of course, was very rough due to the nature of the observation and various factors relating to measurements near the limb of sharpened images. The observation, however, was at the same location as the highest crustal magnetism of Mars.

Again, this is purely speculative based on circumstantial evidence of the location, the properties of the observation, and the recent passage of a large CME from AR1429. But nothing has ruled it out yet. What we need is some sort of confirmation of the prediction that it might occur again

Wayne


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tim53
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5144473 - 03/27/12 06:40 PM

Another observational test would be to image the area when it's on the sunset limb.

edited to add: Also, as we pull away from Mars and the terminator becomes more visible (but Mars also becomes smaller ) sunset limb clouds should be more apparent.

-Tim.

Edited by tim53 (03/27/12 06:42 PM)


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AFAdrenaline
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: tim53]
      #5148327 - 03/30/12 07:27 AM

any official verdicts yet?

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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: AFAdrenaline]
      #5148440 - 03/30/12 09:38 AM

Hi Nick,

No "official" verdict yet. Bruce Cantor at the Malin Space Science Institute says it's most likely a condensate/haze cloud made up of water (which suits me just fine, as that's what I titled this thread ) There are still many questions, however, regarding the size and spectrum of the cloud and why the phenomena was limited to a very specific location and appeared to grow and dissipate over a very short time frame.

Regards,

Wayne


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5148455 - 03/30/12 09:51 AM

How "global" is the observational coverage of planets with orbiters around them? I'd sort of had the idea that if a cloud popped up like this, it would be seen. But, clearly, it took a ground based observation to see this cloud. Does anyone know how often any given spot on Mars gets covered.

My point, I guess, is that it seems to me these sorts of short lived high clouds may be completely normal, if not common, events on Mars but the pros haven't had a wide enough view and amateur imaging is just to the point that "we"* can catch them. All is to to say that this may have some legs and take a careful, slow study.


* Not trying to steal any thunder, Wayne and all of you who imaged the event. More of a royal "we". This thought mostly comes from how amazed I've been at my Mars images in mostly average to below seeing during a poor appartition. And my images aren't really in the same league as many here. The upshot is it wouldn't really surprise me if we learn a lot in the next 10-20 years about normal, but transient, events on the planets as they've never before been imaged in such detail over such a span of time.


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: bunyon]
      #5148545 - 03/30/12 10:32 AM

Quote:

How "global" is the observational coverage of planets with orbiters around them? I'd sort of had the idea that if a cloud popped up like this, it would be seen. But, clearly, it took a ground based observation to see this cloud. Does anyone know how often any given spot on Mars gets covered.




The MARCI data is taken at 3am and 3pm locally for each day for each location on Mars. One of the problem with limb observations (such as this phenomena that occurred at around 8am LMST), is that the orbiter wasn't looking at the spot at the time in question. For morning clouds on Mars, this makes it difficult for the satellites to see, even though they look at each spot on Mars every day. Other satellites cover Mars on a daily basis as well, but depending on the wavelength of their observations and orbital schedule, they may be looking at surface rather than cloud features or not looking at a particular location at a particular time when a potentially short-lived event might occur that, just by happenstance, an amateur might catch.

Mike Wulff at the Space Science Institute mentioned that ground-based observations from Earth are still the best method we have for studying diurnal cloud variations on Mars.

Quote:

My point, I guess, is that it seems to me these sorts of short lived high clouds may be completely normal, if not common, events on Mars but the pros haven't had a wide enough view and amateur imaging is just to the point that "we"* can catch them.




That doesn't seem to be the prevailing view of the researchers that have looked at the amateur images of the event. More likely, it's a very uncommon event if it is indeed a water cloud.

Quote:

All is to to say that this may have some legs and take a careful, slow study.




Having been working in professional science for my entire career, I can state with a great deal of certainly that it's unlikely that we'll ever know the exact nature of the observation. What we'll hope for is that the event re-occurs based upon a prediction, so that we can test various theories of the event.

What's important that if anyone wants to be included in your "royal we" that they share their observations (good conditions or bad) with the community that records and studies them. Posting pretty pictures taken in good seeing is what this forum is primarily used. ALPO-Japan, Richard McKim at the BAA, PVOL, and the ALPO Marsobservers group collect all observations and those who image and contribute regardless of whether they're making "pretty pictures" truly have the capacity to add to our base of knowledge.

I've said this before -- what we amateurs lack in terms of raw "horsepower" on an individual basis, we make up for in numbers.

Regards,

Wayne


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tim53
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5148638 - 03/30/12 11:14 AM

Well stated, Wayne.

As for horsepower... Just like my 2001 2.8 liter VR-6 has 5.5x the horsepower of my 1931 4 liter flathead 4-banger, the technology and hardware available to amateur planetary observers today continues to amaze me.

As ccds get more sensitive and frame rates go up, fine details will get recorded more often by greater numbers of observers.

-Tim


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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5148650 - 03/30/12 11:20 AM

My phrasing wasn't very good. I don't mean that it is common, but normal and predictable. You get high altitude transient phenomena on earth - it is plausible that similar things could happen in the very different atmosphere of Mars.

I guess I was trying to differentiate it from a very, very uncommon event, such as an impact.


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Lsummers
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: bunyon]
      #5148835 - 03/30/12 01:52 PM

How rare is a meteor strike on Mars? Its surface is pock-marked with them and there have undoubedtly been many whose remnants have been washed away by erosion. While we do learn something of them, we'd be learning of a large strike in the case of something visible to an amateur observer.

Seeing the atmosphere on Mars and perhaps gauging the frequency of high-altitude condensate clouds, or whatever the present phenomena might have been, gives us an insight into greater and more fundamental mysteries of Mars... such as what might have caused it to lose its atmospehere? And unlike Jupiter, where an impact will dredge-up material from deep inside its layers that we've been unable to probe (yet), the army of probes on Mars is well-equipped to teach us about the geology of Mars in a way that earth-based observations are incapable of.

Indeed, there are gaps in our ability to study Mars. That an amateur can still contribute with unique observations of Mars' atmosphere (which must, of course, be corroboration by the army of amateurs), allows for an area of study in which we still have an opportunity for amateurs to fill some of those gaps.

Just food for thought.

Larry


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Lsummers]
      #5149359 - 03/30/12 08:15 PM

Here's a very good update on the mars cloud from Alan Boyle at MSNBC.

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/30/10945735-mars-mystery-cloud-explained

Score one for the title of this thread

Wayne


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lunar
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5165314 - 04/10/12 02:12 PM

Great article, and congratulations Wayne! Outstanding observations! Hopefully it's things like this that will continue to inspire those around my age and younger to keep looking up and searching for discoveries.

Clear skies,
Brandon Doyle


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AFAdrenaline
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: lunar]
      #5171486 - 04/14/12 03:26 AM

Just browsing through the news today and came across this article. First thought was "jeeze this looks familiar"... while I realize that is a far cry from scientific evidence or anything along those lines, and there are of course a many many differences between the magnetic fields of uranus and mars, i found the visual similarity none-the-less interesting... perhaps localized auroral activity isn't all that unreasonable as an explanation for the phenomenon.

Auroras on Uranus


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brianb11213
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: AFAdrenaline]
      #5171526 - 04/14/12 06:38 AM

Quote:

perhaps localized auroral activity isn't all that unreasonable as an explanation for the phenomenon.



I gather that Mars has a small magnetic field so aurorae wouldn't be expected. However the pressure gradient in Mars' atmosphere is less than that of the Earth because of the lower gravity, so noctilucent clouds which occur at ~90 km above Earth would probably be at a similar altitude on Mars. And the requirements for NLCs are definitely present at Mars.


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Yuri_18
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5174404 - 04/15/12 09:47 PM Attachment (133 downloads)

Using a map-globe of Mars, I have analyzed our images. It turned out that the position of the cloud coincides exactly with the coordinates of the magnetic anomaly are listed in the article. This is a surprising and thought-provoking.

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AFAdrenaline
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Yuri_18]
      #5174998 - 04/16/12 10:18 AM

very interesting yuri... i have to say, regardless of what this turns out to be its nice to know that relatively average people can still contribute to science without having to gain access to massively expensive equipment (not that our stuff is cheap, but when compared to equipment such as the HST or LHC etc there is a bit of a price difference).

anyways, good to see that gentleman (or woman) science is alive and well!

i am curious though, with all the data that people are collecting, any ideas on any further analysis we could do? i realize this thread has thrown a few ideas around, but a lot of it seems like speculation (informed and knowledgeable speculation, mind you, but speculation none-the-less). it's just that i haven't seen anyone (amateur or professional) provide a definitive "this is what it is" and it strikes me as a tremendous opportunity for the citizen scientist. then again, that may be taking it farther than anyone is interested in doing... but if anyone is, i'm more than game to do what i can.


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WayneJ
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: AFAdrenaline]
      #5175554 - 04/16/12 04:12 PM

Hi guys,

thanks for posting the cloud observations. Please continue to do so! I think that the nature of this phenomena is becoming more clear and that it relates to the aphelion cloud belt that develops on Mars during periods when Mars is furthest from the sun. I've been working with Mike Wolff from the Space Science institute on analyzing the observations and will post more once we have all the data (which will keep coming-in, I hope!)

As for the very tantalizing relationship between the observation of the cloud over a region of very high crustal magnetism, we've been looking at that also. Initially, there was some intriguing correlation between the passage of CMEs and the later appearance of clouds imaged around March 11th by Chris Pellier and then on the 19th-21st by me and Don Parker. Unfortunately, the magnetic field density simply can't account for a phenomena that would be bright enough to image nor does it account for the very large clouds that we've witnessed. Further, once our instruments and filters are properly calibrated, we see that the spectral is probably very consistent with a water-ice phenomena.

More recently, we've received images of condensate clouds closer to the equator and over areas where Mars' crustal magnetism is insignificant. Moreover, we've seen additional observations over areas of high crustal magnetism that do not coincide with the passage of high-energy particles or a strong solar wind stream.

For more information on the basic phenomena, here is a link to one of Mike Wolff's paper's on the subject. We'll be presenting more information on what appears to be this year's much more dramatic aphelion cloud belt appearance in papers later this year.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/sci/fifthconf99/6173.pdf

Regards,

Wayne


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Yuri_18
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: WayneJ]
      #5176017 - 04/16/12 08:56 PM Attachment (155 downloads)

If you are interested, here is a image in UV taken by Alexander Jastrebov (Bryansk, Russia) on April 12, 2012. The cloud is clearly seen.

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brianb11213
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Re: Mars - animation of high-altitude ice cloud new [Re: Yuri_18]
      #5176458 - 04/17/12 06:41 AM

Wow, I'm amazed anyone can image Mars with the UVenus filter - even Venus is pretty faint in it!

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