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MoneyNASA Takes Groundbreaking Photos of Mars' Weirdest Moon

17:21  14 may  2019
17:21  14 may  2019 Source:   popularmechanics.com

NASA Takes Groundbreaking Photos of Mars' Weirdest Moon

NASA Takes Groundbreaking Photos of Mars' Weirdest Moon NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase, gives us one of the best views of this strange moon that we've ever seen. Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars, but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon. In fact, many astronomers suspect Phobos was once an asteroid that Mars snatched up and then made its moon. Because of its small stature, scientists have struggled to properly study Phobos.

NASA ’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars , but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon .

NASA ’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars , but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon .

NASA Takes Groundbreaking Photos of Mars' Weirdest Moon© ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI - Getty Images Is Phobos an asteroid

NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase, gives us one of the best views of this strange moon that we've ever seen.

Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars, but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon. In fact, many astronomers suspect Phobos was once an asteroid that Mars snatched up and then made its moon.

Because of its small stature, scientists have struggled to properly study Phobos. Short of landing on the moon or placing a spacecraft in orbit around it, the best we can do is take some distant pictures. And now, thanks to the new photo series, we can actually start to learn something about it.

After the Moon, people on Mars by 2033...or 2060

After the Moon, people on Mars by 2033...or 2060 On December 11, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a directive ordering NASA to prepare to return astronauts to the Moon "followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations." 

NASA ’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars , but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon .

NASA ’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. Because of its small stature, scientists have struggled to properly study Phobos. Short of landing on the moon or placing a spacecraft in orbit around it, the best we can do is take some distant pictures.

NASA Takes Groundbreaking Photos of Mars' Weirdest Moon© NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/SSI The collection of thermal images of Phobos, taken by Odyssey as the moon rotates.

For instance, the Odyssey's thermal camera took this collection of photos with the Sun directly behind Phobos. These images highlight temperature differences in various regions of the asteroid and hint at Phobos' true makeup. Rocky materials have different temperature signatures than metals like iron and copper, so the snapshots reveal a great deal about Phobos’ composition.

While many scientists suspect Phobos is a captured asteroid, it’s also possible the moon is a chunk of Mars itself knocked into space by a distant asteroid impact. Scientists could help settle the debate by determining what the moon is actually made of and whether its composition matches that of Mars.

After the Moon, people on Mars by 2033...or 2060

After the Moon, people on Mars by 2033...or 2060 On December 11, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a directive ordering NASA to prepare to return astronauts to the Moon "followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations." 

NASA ’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars , but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon .

NASA ’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured the best view of the planet’s moon Phobos yet. The image, which depicts Phobos in its full moon phase Phobos is the biggest moon orbiting Mars , but that isn’t saying much: At only about seven miles across, it's really more of a large asteroid than a proper moon .

But this is the most we’ll likely learn about Phobos for several years, at least until Japan’s upcoming Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) orbiter enters the picture. That orbiter is specifically designed to study the moons of Mars, and is expected to return a sample from one of them sometime next decade. Until then, we’ll have to gather as much as we can from Odyssey.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter just hit an absolutely crazy milestone.
Of all the pieces of hardware that NASA has sent to Mars, we don't hear about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter nearly as much as we'd like.

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