Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 February 24
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Unusual Plumes Above Mars
Image Credit & Copyright: W. Jaeschke

Explanation: What is creating unusual plumes on Mars? No one is sure. Noted and confirmed by a global contingent of amateur astronomers on photos of the red planet in March 2012, possibly similar plumes have now been found on archived images as far back as 1997. Since the plumes reach 200 kilometers up, they seem too high to be related to wind-blown surface dust. Since one plume lasted for eleven days, it seemed too long lasting to be related to aurora. Amateur astronomers will surely continue to monitor the terminator and edge regions of Mars for new high plumes, and the armada of satellites orbiting Mars may be called upon to verify and study any newly reported plume that become visible. The featured 35-minute time-lapse animation was taken on 2012 March 20 by the plume's discoverer -- an attorney from Pennsylvania, USA.

Poll: What do you think these unusual Martian plumes are?
Tomorrow's picture: big rose

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