Huge, Mysterious Plume Recorded on Mars

Huge, Mysterious Plume Recorded on Mars
Credit:Grupo de Ciencias Planetarias (GCP-UPV/EHU)

By Calla Cofield

      A mysterious plume of material reaching high into the Martian atmosphere has scientists buzzing about the Red Planet — and they have amateur astronomers to thank for spotting the baffling feature.

Wayne Jaeschke is a patent lawyer by day, but most nights, you can find him in his observatory, pointing a telescope skyward. In March 2012, Jaeschke spotted what looked like a dust cloud popping off the surface of Mars. Two years later, he is a co-author on a scientific paper investigating the nature of the perplexing Mars plumes.

“You know, 999,999,999 times out of a million, when the amateur astronomers see something in an astronomical photo, the professionals have seen it as well, or they have a theory for explaining it,” Jaeschke said. “But this is a rare case where no one has been able to explain it.”

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