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Extreme Close-Up of Mars's Moon Phobos 104

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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  • "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:"Hollow"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:42PM (#31163346) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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].

  • Re:Typical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @03:53AM (#31166220)

    Many of the technologies that we have now owe their existence to space technology...

    What REALLY needs to be cut is military and weapons funding.

    While I agree with you, you should bear in mind that many advances in medicine, surgery and our understanding of anatomy owe their existence to war. A lot of knowledge was gained on how the visual cortex works by performing tests on soldiers with localised gun shot wounds to the head, for example.

    Does that make up for the money and human cost? I don't know; I doubt it personally, but I have no hard figures. I'm just pointing out that your same argument for space technology can be made for military spending too.

  • Re:Typical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @08:20AM (#31167570)

    To complete the circle, many of the technologies behind the original space race likely wouldn't have been funded if they didn't have nuclear weapons applications. Big-ticket science has, historically, hitched a ride on military expendature. Whether that's desirable is a whole other question, but there you go.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta