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Mars Express Orbiter Buzzes Martian Moon Phobos

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  • On the surface (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:52PM (#45824135)

    Here is a simulated view of the Mars Express pass from the surface of Phobos. []

    However, the simulation missed something - Mars Express has a 40 meter dipole antenna - at 45 km, that's 3 arc min, so you could see Sun glint on the dipoles with your naked eye (i.e., you could resolve it as a structure, not just a dot of light). With a pair of binoculars, you could even see the spacecraft's solar panels.

  • by mbone (558574) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:00PM (#45824205)

    This was a radiometric (Doppler tracking) pass, with the main antenna pointed at the Earth. Pictures would have required re-orienting the spacecraft, and ideally rotating it to remove any motion blur on the close approach. You cannot do that and keep lock on the Earth, and they wanted to nail down the mass of Phobos. Initial reports from the DSN are the the Phobos gravity Doppler shift was visible in the "raw" residuals, so it's likely they will meet this goal.

  • Wow. What a moon. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dubdays (410710) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:44PM (#45824693)
    Not to take anything away from the orbiter team, but damn...that moon looks almost as exciting as a lump of coal. What a crappy black rock.

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