You may have noticed some consternation in some corners of the internet about a possible volcanic eruption on Mars. As it turns out, things are still pretty chill on the red planet and it's not getting all Vesuvius on us.
Some viewers saw that long formation above the planet's surface and assumed it meant an eruption was happening. But the streak is not a smoke plume caused by an eruption. It's a cloud.
Italian debunking site
Twitter some previous examples of long, thin clouds forming near Arsia Mons.
SecureTeam10 said: «could this plume be the reason cameras on both Mars rovers mysteriously shut down from sending data last month?». Nope, that is a cloud on Arsia Mons already taken in the past:https://t.co/50gr1OBY0vhttps://t.co/F5RImCmjbehttps://t.co/tY2ULUAUCi pic.twitter.com/VdY3UQTBo1— ufoofinterest.org (@ufoofinterest) October 21, 2018
"It's not a plume of smoke, but rather water ice clouds condensing out over the summit of the Arsia Mons volcano. We see them quite often over this particular volcano," Harrison writes.
While some Twitter commentators accused NASA of hiding evidence of a volcanic eruption, Harrison shared an image from the space agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing clouds above Arsia Mons earlier in October.
"We see these clouds hang out over the summit of Arsia for weeks at a time during this time of year, every year,"
She says the volcano's high elevation combined with water vapor in the atmosphere causes the clouds to form.
Yes, in this case. We see these clouds hang out over the summit of Arsia for weeks at a time during this time of year, every year. It's a combination of its high elevation and the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere at this time of year causing the clouds to form.— Dr. Tanya Harrison (@tanyaofmars) October 22, 2018
Mars once had a robust volcanic past, but NASA research shows Arsia Mons was last active around 50 million years ago, about the time when dinosaurs went extinct on Earth.
You can bet NASA and ESA would be trumpeting the news if either space agency witnessed a fresh volcanic eruption on the red planet.
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