Luminescence on Mars

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This article is in the process of being written in Italian by Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone. It is translated below by Barry Roffman with comments being added by the Roffman Team as appropriate. The article is under construction on 2/6/2018.

Note: North is on the left side of the image above.

        Incredible ... but in less than a year we have observed a new series of transient Martian phenomena. However, no one else seems to have noticed, all this despite the images are perfectly accessible on the ESA website. The first image in question appeared on January 3, 2018. It was taken from the Mars WebCam device (mounted on board the Mars Express probe) at 16:01:18 UT. From this moment, a sequence of 10 images (the last one taken at 16:08:32) has allowed us to get an overview of the events with three different levels of exposure and thanks to them we have composed four animated GIFs. In the first animation we simply inserted the 10 photos in chronological order, while in the other three animations we grouped the photos according to the exposure time so as to facilitate the comparison.

        NOTE: North is on the left side of the GIF.

Through the Mars24 program we were able to determine the position of the terminator on Mars at the time of filming. In addition, using the free software "Celestia" and with the further addition of the calculations for the Mars Express we went back to the frame of the Mars WebCam.

       We have to admit that, despite some minor inaccuracy in the real calculation of the Mars Express, we were still able to manually adjust the position of the frame until it coincides with the visible details of the image of the Mars WebCam.  At this point we were able to calculate with good approximation the epicenter of the phenomenon that was found to be in Ares Vallis, just north of Iani Chaos at latitude coordinates 1 ° 45 'N, longitude 17 ° 27' W, altitude ~ 3 km below areoid with average altitude surrounding the site about 2km below areoid. The link just given indicates that Ares Vallis is one of several big outflow channels on Mars in this region that formed thousands of millions of years ago. Many surface features suggest that erosion of large water flows had carved Ares Vallis in the Martian landscape.

Directly on the image (precisely the first of the sequence) we could define the total extension of the event to be about 700 km with an average thickness of about 70 km and a central bulge about 140 km wide. Considering the position of the phenomenon, the sun had to be already at about 5.4 ° below the sunset horizon; consequently, if the intrinsic luminescence of the event had been caused by solar illumination, the illuminated area had to occur 12,300 or more meters above areoid. However, there are no mountains in this area. In the absence of them, we were certainly not in a position to determine whether the phenomenon had happened at high altitude in the atmosphere rather than some kind of surface luminescence. Let's say that potentially all hypotheses were open. The case warranted study of the same area with a new sequence of 10 images two days apart. We then treated the images in the same way as described above, creating four animated sequences. 

       You can see that the event has been greatly reduced in size and brightness, but is still present in the same area after more than 2 days. To make the protraction of the phenomenon more evident, we have linked the clearest photo of day 3 with the clearest photo of day 5. As you can well note, the position has remained substantially unchanged. But there is also another very interesting detail to consider. While in the sequences of January 3, the brightness of the event has remained virtually constant, in the sequences of January 5 we note instead a slight tendency to increase in brightness with the advance of the local night, thus excluding in a definitive way that it is a phenomenon produced from the late twilight sunlight. NOTE: The Roffman Team questions this conclusion and offers the next Figure to show that with Mars Pathfinder stratus clouds about 16 km above the lander at 13 km above areoid were visible 1 hour 40 minutes before sunrise. Mars turns on its axis (360 degrees) once every 24 hours 37 minutes (24.6167 hours). This means that the clouds were illuminated enough to see when the sun was about 24.37 degrees below the horizon. What we are seeing here, if clouds, is another indication that the Martian atmosphere is denser than what NASA claims, something that became painfully apparent to the ESA when its Schiaparelli Lander crashed on Mars, and when they were forced to raise the orbit of their ExoMars 2016 orbiter due to what they called "Excessive density of Mars; atmosphere." See and the Roffman Team article entitled Dr. Desai's Martian Atmosphere Model Challenge and The Loss of the Schiaparelli Lander.

Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone continued disputing the involvement of solar illumination, however when I spoke to Marco on February 6, 2018 he was reevaluating his conclusion. I will add his new conclusion as soon as it is formalized. I will also add the additional GIFS that he has to document the illumination. However we note that his calculation about the height of at least 12,300 meters to receive illumination correlates well with the 13,000 meter height above areoid of stratus clouds seen above Pathfinder.

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Note: North is on the left side of the GIF below.