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Amateur Astronomer Spots Strange Cloud Formations On Mars

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the he-loves-it dept.

Mars 62

techfun89 writes "Mars has returned to our evening skies as it does every two years. This time it is getting even more attention and buzz than it normally would. Amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke of West Chester Pennsylvania noticed an unusual protrusion in the planet's southern hemisphere, preceding the sunrise terminator. Several things may have contributed to this strange 'cloud formation.' One possibility is a meteoric impact event, where dust was spewed up into the atmosphere. Another could be a major dust storm, which are typical on Mars. Of course, it could be something more mundane; that these observations were caused by a mere optical illusion via a type of glint that occurred due to having just the right combination of lighting and atmospheric conditions. Some suggest volcanic activity, though this is unlikely given it has been 20 to 200 million years since lava has flowed on Mars."

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62 comments

Poorly-written article (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466187)

The linked article is fairly contradictory on several points. The glaring one is this:

" It was first seen on the evening of March 20th. Jaeschke alerted the international Mars observing community about the odd "extension" at 190.5Â east, 43.7Â south, just before the area that rotates into daylight. The odd feature was visible in all color-filtered exposures from near-infrared to blue light. Jaeschke produced the animation below.

The feature was also reportedly captured by other amateur astronomers over the past few nights. Some astronomers in Europe have seen it as far back as March 12th."

So, it was NOT first seen on the 20th, but rather on the 12th in Europe, and the guy in West Chester is not the discoverer of it.

Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (3, Funny)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466223)

Everyone knows that the cloud formation is caused by a rocket launch.

Re:Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466277)

While the other possibility is the more mundane, that these observations were caused by a mere optical illusion via [mirror or lens artifacts or a drop of water on either].

FTFY, EOT.

Re:Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (4, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467699)

If it has been seen by different astronomers using different equipment, it is highly unlikely to be a problem on the earthbound equipment side of things.

UUUULAAAA! (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466937)

Rocket? No.

At midnight on the twelfth of August^h^h^h^h^h^h March, a huge mass of luminous gas erupted from Mars and sped towards Earth. Across two hundred million miles of void, invisibly hurtling towards us, came the first of the missiles that were to bring so much calamity to Earth.

Re:UUUULAAAA! (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#39468419)

Listen, the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one. Its not going to happen.

Re:UUUULAAAA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39469467)

And yet they came^H^H^H^H come!

Re:Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (3, Funny)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 2 years ago | (#39468077)

WTG Disney, with your "John Carter" movie viral marketing campaign. Impressive effort!

Re:Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39472969)

WTG Disney, with your "John Carter" movie viral marketing campaign. Impressive effort!

It hasn't helped to make the film any less of a financial and critical disaster.

Re:Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39472997)

Good. I find their Deja Thoris strictly comparable. Needs to be more red and a lot more nekkid.

Re:Meteorite impact? Dust storm? Optical illusion? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39469039)

Venting. Pre-departure preparations. Don't worry, you have years before they leave.

Re:Poorly-written article (3, Insightful)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466241)

At first I thought your post was just the standard ./ guy being picky, but yeah totaly agree. To me, even worst than the dates, I don't see a single thing about this guy's equipment or methods, to me in a "tech" article that would almost be first thing.

Re:Poorly-written article (4, Informative)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466849)

Did you actually click the link and begin reading?

From Jaeschke's website, it appears he is using a 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope along with an imaging system that includes a Point Grey Research Flea3 monochrome CCD camera with Astrodon and Astronomik Diochroic filters.

Re:Poorly-written article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39468635)

Read the article? Did you forget you're on slashdot?

Re:Poorly-written article (0)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466329)

Maybe someone is testing nuclear warheads. If Bush/Cheney were still in power that would insure a massive increase in funding for the space program so we could invade Mars and topple their government. Its probably the only way we will ever colonize mars is if we fell an urgent need to occupy it.

Re:Poorly-written article (1, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466393)

Because Obama would NEVER invade or attempt to topple a government right?

Re:Poorly-written article (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467429)

Only if he was told to by the same people that told President Bush to invade Iraq.

Re:Poorly-written article (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39476059)

Obama hasn't toppled a government over a fabricated claim they are making WMD's, yet. If he invades Iran then maybe you will have him. Though Iran seem to be actually developing nukes, and those are the countries we generall DON'T invade, reference North Korea and Pakistan.

Its not clear Obama has even toppled a government yet. Libya is the only one that is even close and that was more Italy, France and NATO leading that charge than the U.S. and that was for oil not WMD's. Libya completely abandoned WMD's during the Bush administration.

I referenced Bush/Cheney because they actually did topple the government in Iraq over a false WMD claim, not because I particularly like or Obama or think he would be any different if the opportunity arose.

Re:Poorly-written article (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39471217)

yes! Occupy Mars!

if you're the 99%, get your ass to Mars!

Re:Poorly-written article (4, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466705)

Once somethng new's been discovered, astronmers take another look at recent observations to see if they found it too. It's not at all uncommon to find images of it in photos taken before the official discovery. The discoverer isn't the first person to see it but the first person to recognize it as something new and report it.

Blah blah obligatory I for one (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466221)

I, for one, welcome our new cloud-based overlords.

Re:Blah blah obligatory I for one (1, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467477)

I've got an unusual protrusion in my southern hemisphere, if you know what I mean.

OT: Psychic Norah Ad ? (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466225)

Why the hell does this article show up in my RSS reader with an ad for "Psychic" -yeah, right- Norah? Can't Google Ads make the distinction between astronomy and astrology?

Re:OT: Psychic Norah Ad ? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466637)

Those who would click on such an ad probably can't, and Google probably knows that.

Re:OT: Psychic Norah Ad ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466845)

What does astrology have to do with psychic? (Other than the obvious "they are both BS" argument.) Precognition, telepathy, psychokinesis, etc. are not the same thing as calculations of what sign you were born under and the mysteries of why it matters that "Mars is high in influence". Both are (by me) undisputed bunk. But they are completely different bunk.

Re:OT: Psychic Norah Ad ? (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467937)

Ditto wonkey_monkey's comment. Maybe Google realizes the same people who would buy into astrology would buy into psychic stuff and would also not discriminate either from astronomy. It's pretty cynical, but there's probably something to it.

But .... Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466229)

You mean he didn't blame aliens?

Re:But .... Aliens (1, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466305)

You mean he didn't blame aliens?

I, for one, welcome our new Farting Martian overlords.

Re:But .... Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39469143)

If only they stopped putting up a stink.

A strange cloud formation can mean only one thing. (1)

beanpoppa (1305757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466259)

...invasion!

Re:A strange cloud formation can mean only one thi (2)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466913)

...invasion!

So it has come to this...

Re:A strange cloud formation can mean only one thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39474341)

At last we will reveal ourselves to the earthlings, at last we will have revenge!

- Marvin The Martian

John Carter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466349)

...desperately trying to boost film attendance, JC is making a scene

Upon closer inspection (2)

Centurix (249778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466375)

It looks like a weather balloon filled with swamp gas...

Re:Upon closer inspection (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467523)

Checking the chart [flvrd.com] You may be right.

The revolution is nigh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466383)

It's obvious, Quaid/Hauser has started the reactor!

Staaahh the reaaactuhhh!

Blue sky on mars, I can't wait to visit venusville!

Ogilvie assured me (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466509)

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million-to-one. I wouldn't worry about it folks.

something to consider (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466539)

if there is not enough oxygen in the thin Mars atmosphere what if natural gas in the ground occasionally erupts but does not ignite (if there is no ignition or lack of oxygen)

Re:something to consider (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466689)

Natural gas coming from the ancient buried forests on Mars? Maybe we should drill for oil there!

Re:something to consider (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467629)

fossils of plants & animals are not the only source of natural gas, carbon is among the most common elements in the universe and that also comes from stars

Wells and Welles (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466639)

Clearly this has been caused by the rocket engines of a military force, on its way to Earth as we speak! Time to break out the biological weapons!

Rovers to the Rescue (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466801)

So if we can see it from Earth, shouldn't you be able to see it from one of the various devices we have stationed on/around Mars? Can't we grab the camera and pan around to see if there are any towering pillars of smoke/dust/clouds hanging around?

Re:Rovers to the Rescue (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467603)

    Proximity is a bitch. Someone in New York can't see a hurricane hitting Florida. To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any working probes on or around Mars at this time. So, you're seeing it.

Re:Rovers to the Rescue (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39469595)

To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any working probes on or around Mars at this time

Not even close. Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Express are all still operating in orbit. The Opportunity rover is still functioning on the surface, but I suspect it's nowhere near the cloud.

Re:Rovers to the Rescue (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39473039)

To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any working probes on or around Mars at this time.

Then "the best of your knowledge" is pretty darned poor. It states right there in the article that you clearly didn't read that:

Hill and his team will be looking at the area of the formation using the Thermal Emission Imaging System or THEMIS, one of the instruments on the NASA Mars Odyssey orbiter. THEMIS will also check out heightened cloud activity around Mars' shield volcanoes as well as around the southern site spotted by the amateurs.

[Emphasis mine]

Is anybody tracking these things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466817)

As people struggle to figure out what the cause of this phenomenon is, I have to wonder... some people (far fewer than should be,) watch the skies on Earth for objects that may strike the Earth. Is anybody watching out for objects (based on trajectories,) that could impact other planets locally? It would be great, right now, to know (for those interested in whether or not this is from ancient life, a buried forest as one /. commenter suggested), if this could have been from a comet or asteroid, or if it's from internal activity, a volcano, or whatever.

So is anyone watching? Would we need a set of Mars based telescopes to do that effectively, and wouldn't that be a cool project?

Re:Is anybody tracking these things? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39469681)

So is anyone watching? Would we need a set of Mars based telescopes to do that effectively, and wouldn't that be a cool project?

Yes. No. And Yes.

Who's watching Grover's Mills, NJ? (1)

Analog Guru (2458660) | more than 2 years ago | (#39467489)

Just asking'.

Perhaps K'Breel, leader of the Council... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39468049)

Perhaps K'Breel, leader of the Council can enlighten us ?

Re:Perhaps K'Breel, leader of the Council... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39469061)

Perhaps K'Breel, leader of the Council can enlighten us ?

K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, announced: GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IS HAPPENING, CITIZENS!

There is no huge mass of luminous gas that has erupted from our world, and if there were, it would not be speeding towards the blue planet, across some REDACTED distance of void, invisibly (for REDACTED values of invisibility) hurtling towards it. And if perchance such a thing were to have happened, the cloud would not contain the REDACTED of the REDACTEDs that would, if they were present, which they are not, bring so much calamity to the robotic denizens of that foul blue world.

When an anonymous citizen requested further information from the Council, K'Breel had the citizen's gelsacs REDACTED as an object lesson in operational security: "loose sacs get whacks!"

Maybe try observing.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39468297)

...with a clean lens.

Seen this one before (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39468301)

Looks to me like it's caused by enormous heating rods in a giant underground alien cavern, being plunged into the vast ice deposits underneath Mars, and releasing oxygen in an explosive force that will convert the planets atmosphere into one which is suitable to support human life.

Yep.

Isn't it a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39468749)

... crater?

Smoke signals (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39468895)

As an advanced civilization, the Marsmen have given up higher technology. They're trying to communicate with us by smoke signal.

Yawns (0)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39469829)

This news story would be much more exciting and interesting if it were the discovery of an ET martian base, possibly for scientific observation of the Earth. Otherwise, it seems to be rather mind numbingly boring.

oh that's easy (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39470853)

the cloud is formed from all the money Disney burned and lost to make and market John Carter of Mars

Mars got a boner (0)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#39471233)

Witnesses are not sure if it is due to Venus or Uranus. Mars had no comment.

Dust Storm? Probably. (0)

Keramos (1263560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39471447)

The chances of it being anything else are a million-to-one.

Dust storm? Don't think so. (3, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39472703)

When Mariner 9 (and 2 Soviet Mars orbiters) the planet was having the worst dust storm in decades. The entire surface was basically invisible from orbit, which hasn't happened since.

The reason I bring this is up is that this storm did not reach above the atmosphere. It was observed from Earth, but caused nothing like the pictures of the recent event - and that was more or less the biggest storm ever seen. So, if this is real, I don't think it's a dust storm.

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