Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Richard Hoagland and Keith Laney hate NASA

"Why is NASA lying about a major volcanic eruption on Mars?"

        The above is the headline for next Saturday's edition of Richard Hoagland's blogtalk show "Other Side of Midnight." Meanwhile, over on The Hidden Mission forum, Keith Laney posted as follows:
"Arsia Mons has been erupting since about Sept 20th. So far science hasn't said doodly squat about it. Figures, seems heads are so far up assesnote 1 that they can't even see the f'in Millennium Falcon sitting plainly on top of Ryugu."
These two clowns are so obsessed with NASA hatred that they haven't noticed that:
  1. This is not an eruption
  2. The image comes from ESA's Mars Express, not NASA
  3. Dr. Tanya Harrison, one of the "drivers" of the Mars rover Opportunity (and of course a JPL employee) has commented. I see no evidence that Dr. Harrison's head is anywhere close to her ass.
Harrison's comment was as follows:
"It's not a plume of smoke, but rather water ice clouds condensing out over the summit of the Arsia Mons volcano. We see these clouds hang out over the summit of Arsia for weeks at a time during this time of year, every year."
        Dr. Harrison is trained in planetary science. Neither Hoagland nor Laney has any such training, yet they think they know better just from having a look at a rather intriguing image. The guest on next Saturday's blogtalk show (if it happens—Hoagland's technical skills have been failing again lately) is John Brandenburg. Brandenburg has no expertise in this area either—he's a plasma physicist with very strange ideas about Xenon isotope ratios. That show may plumb new depths of NASA-hating ignorance. I will not be listening.

        P.S. The image above is just one of a whole series from the Mars Express Webcam. Check 'em out.

Update 1:
        This page from MSSS dated 20 September 2005 ascribes these seasonal plumes to dust rather than vapor. I'm not qualified to arbitrate between Tanya Harrison and her former employer—the point is, it ain't an eruption.

Update 2:
        Trekker provides this excellent update, direct from ESA. I don't think Keith Laney will be whining about science saying doodly squat any more.

Update 3:
        OSOM was aborted after about six minutes due to technical problems. Hoagland said he had no music and no commercials. "You should never do an amateur program, ever."note 2 It's rescheduled for Sunday night.

Update 4:
        The show completed on Sunday night. It's available (for a limited time, I think) at this link.

Update 5:
        Appearing on the News segment of Coast to Coast AM Oct. 30th, Mike Bara incorrectly stated that the plume's origin was the crater, and said "definitely not water vapor." Isn't it time C2C started calling in somebody who knows WTF he's talking about?

====================/ \=====================

[1] Juvenile obscenity is a standard feature of Keith's forum. The members often behave like nasty little schoolboys.

[2] This will bring a smile to the faces of those who remember his radio shows from 2015/16. The squeaking chair, the ringing phone, the barking dog....


Two Percent said...

Damn interesting, I say, expat.

Pretty sure, that ain't no volcanic eruption. The point of origin is too wide, and the dispersal pattern is just plain wrong. It appears to "evaporate" rather than disperse. If it was dispersing as volcanic ash does, the tail would get wider and fainter, which is not what is observed.

But the linked flickr ESA marswebcam photos are absolutely not much help.

Such terribly low resolution, blurry photos that they might appear to be a deliberate attempt to hinder rather than help work out what's going on. SURELY, better photos are available somewhere? These cannot be originals, can they?

Anyway, I'm gonna say it's not so simple as claimed. Why don't these ribbon clouds show up elsewhere, around the two higher Mars mons, for example?

I imagine these's something on the top of Arsia Mons (like, volcanic ash or similar) that is precipitating / catalysing this process.

Nah, Of course, the mons is really a disguised Martian nuclear power plant, and this is condensing steam from the (single) cooling tower. I suppose that fits better than a volcanic eruption, at least.

Two Percent said...

P.S. Brandenburg ain't so bad!

At least, unlike most of the other 'stars' here, he has some real, serious qualifications. That alone might justify listening?

Two Percent said...

Actually, expat, damn right interesting.

Had a bit more of a look. The plume appears to originate from the base of the mons.

I don't buy the ice clouds theory at all, now. If it was from the top, like a vapour trail from a wingtip vortex, maybe, but I don't see how this is ice clouds.

Anyone got any links to better photos of that mons that we can look at?

expat said...

There are a couple more images at the c|net link, but they aren't notably better. I agree the source of the plume is at the base.

OneBigMonkey said...

It is a regular climate feature on Mars. Here's an image taken by India in 2015 that shows exactly the same thing. You can see that the shadow of the cloud where it starts that it is obviously at altitude.

It's caused by the exactly the same geographic factors that produce the same sort of clouds on Earth.

Conspiracy nuts have been whining that NASA are hiding it when there isn't anything to hide.NASA's own images do show the cloud but the time of day they are taken makes it less obvious.

Two Percent said...

Thanks expat.

I did see those, I think, and I agree...

However, a bit more looking.

The plume casts a shadow. In some cases (over-exposed?) the plume appears black, but I think that's just because the plume is washed out, and we're seeing the shadow only.

Anyway, in one or two images, it's possible to discern apparent height, by comparing shadow against plume. The plume appears to me to start at or near the ground, and rise quickly to a certain height, then travel more or less horizontally, presumably on the high-altitude winds.

Maybe there is some small amount of residual geothermal heat just there, and maybe a small lake... Or mud pools, or something similar. Or a crashed mothership, with a still-smoking nuclear reactor. Ooops. Didn't see that 58,000 foot high mountain just there... Dang.

That's pretty interesting too. Twice the height of Everest. A gigantic, stand-alone volcano. On a planet <11% the mass of Earth. Hmmm.

Mars certainly is an intriguing planet.

Wikipedia has some awesome images of the mons, but I see no sign of motherships or mudpools. Fascinating.

Ahhh! It must be here:

[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsia_Mons#/media/File:Mars;_Arsia_Mons_cave_entrance_-MRO.jpg ]

WTH? The edges of that hole are very sharp. Must have been a blowout! The Fukushima reactor had a containment blowout too...

Two Percent said...

OnebigMonkey writ:

"Here's an image taken by India in 2015 that shows exactly the same thing."

Sorry, I can't see the link... Please do post it (longhand is fine).

I'm really keen to take a look. The more data we can get, the better the discussion!

Two Percent said...

[Hi expat, slack proofing - please use this version instead of the earlier one. Cheers, 2%]

Hey OBM!

Are we telepathically linked?

I had not seen your post when I wrote mine about the shadows, and, accordingly, vice versa.

Perish the thought, right!?

OneBigMonkey said...

Apologies - I was posting from my phone in bed and obviously didn't paste the link in properly and couldn't see it:


The distinct separation of cloud and shadow is very obvious, as is the location of its start well away from the peak itself.

expat said...

Brilliant, thanks a lot.

Two Percent said...

Awesome image, thanks OBM.

But not an easy puzzle. I don't think Dr Tanya is entirely correct:

"We see these clouds hang out over the summit of Arsia for weeks at a time during this time of year, every year," Harrison writes. She says the volcano's high elevation combined with water vapor in the atmosphere causes the clouds to form.

Very loose wording, actually. Maybe her head isn't close enough to her Arsia!

Surely, it's not Earth years? Surely, it's every Martian year. WATER!!? I doubt it, very much. Not on its own, anyway, or we would see it around the other mega-volcanic montes.

And they're not "over the summit" but in the lee of the mons. And, AFAIAC, these are not clouds, any more than jet plane "vapour trails" are clouds. They are really particle (or ice crystal) streams, or some such title.

I thought about the possibility that this is due to atmospheric CO2 freezing out, but again, why only there? Maybe there is some element in the ash that was ejected onto the slopes of this specific mons that precipitates these streamers forming. But I would have thought that too would have solidified or dissipated by now.

It is approaching the height of summer in the Martian southern hemisphere, so temperature is apparently a factor, but why?

'Tis a mystery.

But eruptions, it is not.

Trekker said...

Update from ESA today: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Mars_Express_keeps_an_eye_on_curious_cloud?fbclid=IwAR0ZIBtwQW8z9p5Qd5zPjGaQ6DOjW50-48DL4PeL_3EjHpXDHwjSTzTsUwg

expat said...

Very useful, thanks

Two Percent said...

Hi expat,

Keith Laney may not be whining - but I might!

From the ESA page:

"In spite of its location, this atmospheric feature is not linked to volcanic activity but is rather a water ice cloud driven by the influence of the volcano’s leeward slope on the air flow – something that scientists call an orographic or lee cloud – and a regular phenomenon in this region. "

Don't you love it when scientists try to "own" and gloss over something they really have no clue about?

... scientists call [it] an orographic or lee cloud ...

Obviously, it's quite anomalous, but let's pretend we know all about it.

They don't say much, but they do claim it's water ice. How do they even know this?

The plume is 10's of miles wide and hundreds long. How much water would be required to create something this big that it's potentially visible from Earth? I know there's not much free water on Mars.

And why don't other (higher) montes also show this phenomemon?

OneBigMonkey said...

Yeah scientist, with their years of research and specialist knowledge - what do they know?

Don't you just love it when rank amateurs try and own a subject they know nothing about? Geographic clouds are a well known feature on Mars and do not just occur in this location.





Two Percent said...

"Yeah scientist[sic], with their years of research and specialist knowledge - what do they know?"

It takes far more than that to be a true scientist.

Anyway, I hope your misinterpretation of what I said was deliberate.

Filled with excitement and anticipation, hoping to find some valuable gems, I looked up your links...

Bitterly disappointed. They turned out to be either unsubstantiated musings or not even relevant, and mostly from last century. Was hoping for something . . . of scientific substance, to explain THIS particular phenomenon. Uhh, I know there are clouds on Mars. Even dust clouds. Gee.

Years of Knowledge, in order listed:

"Discrete Topographic and Orographic Clouds of Mars - By: Jeff Beish" - undated. Most recent reference apparently 1995.

"Mars: Topographic control of clouds, 1907–1973 - by William K.Hartmann" - Pub: February 1978

"The Clouds of Mars - by K.E. Chilton - This was written ... on April 22, 1976."

[A BLURRY, low-res image of Mars] "Posted by Jaicoa2 on Tuesday, January 17, 2012"


Got anything else? Or are you full?

Trekker said...

Article from Astrobob here, with images showing orographic clouds on Mars' volcanoes: http://astrobob.areavoices.com/2018/10/26/strange-cloud-on-mars-turns-heads/

Dee said...

2% wrote: "Such terribly low resolution, blurry photos"

That is not as much a fault but a feature, when seen in context. The Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) was not intended or designed for the type of task you are requiring. It was meant just to monitor Beagle 2 deployment internally. But a project started to re-purpose it for a wide angle consistent sequential picture of Mars, and fully automatically upload to Flickr for, who knows, interested audiences.


In any case, to schedule a more specialist camera to target a more specific area needs mission planning. And any specialist wide angle camera will need more processing and follow scientific release cycles (much to do about certification of quality and error reduction before scientists start working on it) and will show up a bit later. Hence the reason why the Flickr deal is more interesting to the general, impatient audience.


Two Percent said...

Hi Dee,

Many thanks for the context. It all helps understand what we are looking at.


Thanks too for the astrobob link.

I don't know about you, but my thinking is still that this phenomenon, regardless of whether it strictly meets the formal criteria for 'orographic clouds' or not, is anomalous. There's more to it than simply a vapour, droplet and dust-containing wind flowing over a geographical feature. To me at least, there's clearly something special about that particular spot on the flank of Arsia Mons, that specificially gives rise to these streamers. Looking at a number of images, it doesn't seem to matter which way the wind flows, they all seem to start from the same spot, though it's hard to tell exactly.

Anyway, typical orographic clouds seem to look like these:


Quite different, to my eye.

What I was objecting to is what I consider the arrogant or superior attitude many self-proclaimed, so-called scientists seem to be afflicted with. It's highly unscientific, to say the least.

Attempting to grab the limelight, and downplay and pass these streamers off as 'mundane' orographic clouds is what annoyed me. Sorry about that. But when I see this, I can see what people like Keith Laney are wont to complain about.

Trekker said...

Dee, do you know if the MRO has any plans to look at it?

Dee said...

Trekker, I've no knowledge of any NASA/MRO planning. Actually I'm not claiming any knowledge of any planning whatsoever by any agency or mission control team! :-)

There's already the Marx Express HRSC hi-res in the link your provided.

You can wonder how much can be gained by sub-meter detail in this case, with the HiRISE as clouds do not tend to get into focus! MARCI has the wider view but too little detail perhaps. Perhaps spectrometers might be more interesting and for that Mars Express carries better tools than MRO. And I'd also be interested in the recently started data acquisition of ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). But it's always the question if automated, scheduled mapping periods will or can be changed to insert other areas of interests. The potential scientific value of such effort must first become undeniable. Lets see if I can find more information on TGO planning.

Trekker said...

OK, thanks for your response! Given the clarity and quality of HiRise images, I thought it would have been the best instrument to take a look!

THE Orbs Whiperer said...

So much for Mars, as being a safe place to escape Earth changes.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the show with Brandenberg. Its funny how because he has a degree and worked in an area of relevance (i.e. space) that this somehow means he is correct or a reputable source. I have noticed this about others such as Stanton Friedman. Just because he had something to do with nuclear stuff in the ancient past, does this mean he is valid in whatever else he says? Is there any regulating body in Science that handles this problem because in the court of public opinion, they love these kind of experts. Usually they are PhDs, but also it can be because they worked in some government (or related) position.

At some point it seems Brandenberg is all about story telling. Whether it is Clementine or Xenon 129 or space political intrigue, all of it seems based more on his recollections than up-to-date facts. He may have some facts but most seem to be out-dated. It would take a lot of time to checked his statements about "Clementine 2" during the show. But based on his claims about Clementine itself, I wonder if it worth the trouble.

expat said...

Did Brandenburg go along with the fiction that Arsia is erupting?

Anonymous said...

Yes. But I love the dismissive flair he uses as if saying "I know all about Mars". Pretty sad. But he does have a lot of experience with fiction which likely helped him have a Hollywood contract for his fiction books and in fact he moved there too. Its odd that he is working with James Woodward, another PhD, on the Woodward Drive concurrently.

I won't be listening to Hoagland's show again. It is kind of embarrassing.