• Haze on Mars

Haze on Mars

A strange haze spotted high in the Martian atmosphere is causing quite a stir in the scientific community.

Scientists remain baffled as to how such vast plume was formed in the thin higher region of Mars' atmosphere. The haze is believed to be about 1,000 times stronger than the strongest aurora ever spotted.

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Astronomers initially spotted the plumes about 250 kilometers above the Martian surface in March and April 2012. In an article by the LA Times, European Space Agency's planetary scientist Antonio Garcia Munoz described such a phenomenon as highly unusual.

Scientists have yet to clearly determine the identity of mysterious, giant haze that later vanished above the surface of the Red Planet. These mysterious plumes were spotted on two separate occasions.

In a report published by the Journal Nature, researchers believe the plume is most likely composed of large clouds or an extraordinarily massive aurora formation. Scientists are well aware of the occurrences of auroras in this region of Mars.

The BBC reported scientists saying that "the intensities we are reporting are much much higher than any auroras seen before on Mars or on Earth."

Another possible explanation is the strange haze is a mere cloud formation consisting of carbon dioxide or water particles. Garcia Munoz noted that clouds have been identified on Mars only up to 100 kilometers from the surface.

The haze is reported to be 200 km. As such "it is significantly different. At 200 km, we shouldn't see any clouds, the atmosphere is too thin -- so the fact we see it for 20 days in total is quite surprising." Garcia Munoz added.

This discovery "raises more question than answers".