What is this odd ‘plume’ on Mars?

Image of Mars showing the odd "plume" on the limb of its disk. An enlargement is in the upper right-hand corner. Credit: Wayne Jaeschke

An unusual “plume-like” formation has been spotted on Mars, with internet chatter speculating on what it is. It was first seen last week by amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke in Pennsylvania on March 20.

The oddity appears as a small “bump” on the limb of the planet as seen in the photographs taken. It may be a plume of dust rising from the surface after a meteor impact or possibly a high-altitude cloud, which can sometimes look similar to this. The most exciting possibility would be a volcanic eruption, and while Mars has numerous volcanoes, they have all been extinct or dormant for millions of years, as far as is currently known.

Another mage of Mars showing the odd "plume" on the limb of its disk. An enlargement is in the upper right-hand corner, showing more detail. Credit: Wayne Jaeschke

The phenomenon has also been seen by other astronomers in the days since then, so there is a lot of interest in this Martian mystery. Hopefully an answer will be available soon!

See also updates here and here.

This article was first published on Examiner.com.

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