Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Martian moon Phobos in detail

11.11.2004


These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, are Europe’s highest-resolution pictures so far of the Martian moon Phobos.


Phobos in colour, close-up


Collection of Phobos images from different orbit passes



These HRSC images show new detail that will keep planetary scientists busy for years, working to unravel the mysteries of this moon. The images show the Mars-facing side of the moon, taken from a distance of less than 200 kilometres with a resolution of about seven metres per pixel during orbit 756.

Images of Phobos as shown here had already been taken at lower resolution in previous orbits (413, 649, 682, 715 and 748). In the coming months, these first pictures will be followed by a series of images taken in subsequent fly-bys.


The Mars Express spacecraft periodically passes near Phobos about one hour before it flies at an altitude of only 270 kilometres above the Martian surface, just above the atmosphere. Within minutes, the orbiting spacecraft turns from its attitude where it points at Mars to train its camera on this little world.

The HRSC provided an unprecedented near-simultaneous group of 10 different images of the surface, enabling the moon’s shape, topography, colour, ‘regolith’ light-scattering properties, and rotational and orbital states to be determined. The regolith is the small-grained material covering most non-icy planetary bodies, resulting from multiple impacts on the body’s surface.

These images have surpassed all previous images from other missions in continuous coverage of the illuminated surface, not blurred and at the highest resolution. The US Viking Orbiter obtained a few small areas sampled at an even higher resolution of a few metres per pixel, but these were not so sharp due to the close and fast fly-by.
The global ‘groove’ network is seen in sufficient detail to cover the Mars-facing surface continuously from near the equator up to the north pole with regular spacing between the grooves. It now may be possible to determine whether the grooves existed before the large cratering events, and exist deep within Phobos, or came after the cratering events and were superimposed on them.

Much more detail is seen inside the various-sized craters, showing some with marked albedo variations. Some craters have dark materials near the crater floors, some have regolith that slid down the crater walls, and some have very dark ejecta, possibly some of the darkest material in our Solar System.

This tiny moon is thought to be in a ‘death spiral’, slowly orbiting toward the surface of Mars. Here, Phobos was found to be about five kilometres ahead of its predicted orbital position. This could be an indication of an increased orbital speed associated with its secular acceleration, causing the moon to spiral in toward Mars.

Eventually Phobos could be torn apart by Martian gravity and become a short-lived ring around Mars, or even impact on the surface. This orbit will be studied in more detail over the lifetime of the Mars Express.

The 3D anaglyph image was generated from a combination of the nadir and the blue channel. The colour image was calculated from the three colour channels and the nadir channel. Due to geometric reasons the scale bar is only valid for the centre of the image.

Guido de Marchi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEM21TVJD1E_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>