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Extreme Close-Up of Mars's Moon Phobos 104

Posted by kdawson
from the you-lookin'-at-me dept.
coondoggie writes "The European Space Agency's Mars exploring satellite will make a number of close-up passes of the Martian moon Phobos. The Mars Express, which the agency launched in 2003, has begun a series of flybys of Phobos, the largest moon of Mars, that will ultimately set a new record for the closest pass to Phobos — skimming the surface at 50 km, or about 31 miles. This is only about 5 times the irregular moon's average radius. The data collected by the satellite could help solve some of the mysteries about the moon, beginning with that of its origin."
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Extreme Close-Up of Mars's Moon Phobos

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:43PM (#31162834)

    I wanted an extreme close-up of Phoebe Cates, dammit.

  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:45PM (#31162846) Journal
    It looks rather plain- for some reason I thought it would look a little scary or something. Not sure why.
  • Yes! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Nai7 (703453)

    W00t a rock!

  • Phobos == Death Star.

    So, obviously they'll need to get a lot lower than *that*. The Rebel snubfighters were only meters above the surface...

  • by jms (11418) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:50PM (#31162896)

    For sale: One Death Star. Full size. Somewhat lumpy. Amateur construction. Needs work.

  • "Hollow"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @08:51PM (#31162902) Homepage

    > When calculating the density, this gives a surprising figure because it
    > seems that parts of Phobos may be hollow...

    That is interesting, to say the least.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "For the World is Hollow and I Touched the Sky" Star Trek:OS

      Maybe, there's a door camouflaged as a crater or something and there's some really hot priestess that worships a computer that's looking for a husband?

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      That was from previous flybys, so this one might confirm and explain why.
    • by srothroc (733160)
      I wonder if there could be pockets of gas inside Phobos.
      • by mbone (558574)

        Not very likely - it would escape rapidly. There might be pockets of ice, though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      If Phobos has ice under its surface the next 50 years will be very interesting. A mission to mars orbit with ISRU [nasa.gov] would suddenly look feasible.

    • Re:"Hollow"? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mbone (558574) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @10:14PM (#31163582)

      When calculating the density, this gives a surprising figure because it
        seems that parts of Phobos may be hollow...

      There was a 50 year old hypothesis that Phobos was hollow, with a very low density, in order to explain the anomalous drag on the satellite, which has now been shown to be due to the tidal bulge raised on Mars by Phobos. The measured density is about 1.9 gm/cm^3, which is a little low, but not unusual compared to the asteroids [mac.com], especially small asteroids.

      These are probably just all rock piles, repeatedly fractured by collisions and without enough self-gravity to smush things back together, so some internal voids would not be surprising.

      • > These are probably just all rock piles, repeatedly fractured by collisions
        > and without enough self-gravity to smush things back together, so some
        > internal voids would not be surprising.

        Small voids, yes, but they would have be pretty big to show up at the resolution these measurements good for.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      I think they flew to the wrong moon and ended up photographing the UESC Marathon instead. I just hope that they don't try to go LCROSS on it; if a large bomb is allowed to detonate in the Engineering Section, the Marathon would be ^&2``~<Colloquialism Search Error #F9C>

      ~[p[]]*kc3sla/.U

      ***MESSAGE INTERRUPTED***
    • To mirror myself is so hollow, need to invest myself like the density !!! (The Mars Express)
  • Oblig. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Freaky Spook (811861) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:04PM (#31163048)

    IT's A TRAP!!!!!!

    no no, wait, I got this..

    That's no moon!!!

  • can you possibly imagine the horror of something similar?

  • Fear of a moon named Phobos (fear) = ???

  • Leather Goddesses!

    This all began in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, in 1936. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos are just finalizing their plans for the invasion of Earth. People have been abducted by the Leather Goddesses for the final testing of the plan which will enslave all of humanity. Unless this nefarious plan is stopped, the Earth will be turned into these twisted vixens' pleasure dome. For some unknown reason, this outcome is considered unfavorable.

  • I won't lie, the first thing I thought of when I read 'Phobos' was the classic game 'Doom', which takes place on Phobos I believe...

  • I can look forward to a Google Phobos [google.com]?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:56PM (#31163462)
    Sorry to be blunt, but I don't visit Slashdot to get redirected to some shitty ad-plastered website with half-assed copy/pasted information.

    Was it really so hard for the submitter to give this a proper non-misleading title, and a link to the actual ESA press release? [esa.int]

    Is there a way to get kdawson fired? He seems to pull this shit a lot.
    • They should bring back Michael Sims and have him fist-fight KDawson, 'cuz Mikey don't take shit from no-one.
    • by dylan_- (1661)

      but I don't visit Slashdot to get redirected to some shitty ad-plastered website with half-assed copy/pasted information.

      That's not a redirect.

      [just kidding...I think...]

    • Sorry to be blunt, but I don't visit Slashdot to get redirected to some shitty ad-plastered website with half-assed copy/pasted information. Was it really so hard for the submitter to give this a proper non-misleading title, and a link to the actual ESA press release? [esa.int] Is there a way to get kdawson fired? He seems to pull this shit a lot.

      I'm going to guess it's because the linked article had that nice photo to look at. You know, the extreme close up photo that was the whole point of the article submission. Not that official information like the link you suggested isn't nice.

  • Pictures from 200 km (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:57PM (#31163470)

    The Soviet Phobos-2 mission returned some cool pictures [iki.rssi.ru] before its computer failed. I especially like the ones with Mars in the background [mentallandscape.com].

  • Wikipedia says Manhattan is 21km, and that Phobos is 11km average radius.

    Is this what Manhattan would look like on Phobos? [digitalsushi.com]

    I dunno. I think the math is about right, but I've been really wrong before.

  • Hello, Greg Bear? I gotta idea for a book....
  • Weird. The story made me suddenly phobic of close-ups of Mars [wikimedia.org] mooning [flickr.com].
  • Looks pretty low resolution to me compared to NASA's HiRISE [wikipedia.org] images from 2008. The wikipedia page has a link to a nice time magazine gallery and the Official HiRISE Site [arizona.edu]Go ahead click on the 3374 × 3300 pixel image on this UCL page [ucl.ac.uk] for an EXTREME closeup of Phobos.

    So nice snap shots ESA, but hardly extreme...

  • For the sake of argument, let's assume that either Phobos or Deimos are composed of something we really want. Titanium, uranium, etc. What would be the effect on Mars' orbit if we mined the moon? I know that their gravity, compared to Mars, is negligible, but they still have an effect on the orbit.

    What would happen if one or both moons were removed from their orbits?

    • It would be safe to assume that the moons help to stabilize Mars' rotation around it's own axis. Phobos has an associated tidal bulge on Mars itself, I don't know about Deimos. Without these moons, Mars' geographic pole axis would wander around the celestial sphere. That means that the geographic poles would be in the same place on Mars, but the "north star" would change every so often. Be aware that this happens on Earth, too, in a 24000 year cycle.

  • by IronChef (164482)

    Phobos flyby blog:
    http://webservices.esa.int/blog/blog/7 [esa.int]

    Better than the linked article.

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