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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Astronomy Picture of the Day

 

phoboslimb marsexpress big 670x415 Astronomy Picture of the Day

Martian Moon Phobos from Mars Express
Credit: G. Neukum (FU Berlin) et al., Mars ExpressDLRESAAcknowledgement: Peter Masek

Explanation: Why is Phobos so dark? Phobos, the largest and innermost of two Martian moons, is the darkest moon in the entire Solar System. Its unusual orbit and color indicate that it may be a captured asteroid composed of a mixture of ice and dark rock. The above picture of Phobos near the limb of Mars was captured in November, 2010 by the robot spacecraft Mars Express currently orbiting Mars. Phobos is a heavily cratered and barren moon, with its largest crater located on the far side. From images like this, Phobos has been determined to be covered by perhaps a meter of loose dust. Phobos orbits so close to Mars that from some places it would appear to rise and set twice a day, but from other places it would not be visible at all. Phobos‘ orbit around Mars is continually decaying — it will likely break up with pieces crashing to the Martian surface in about 50 million years.

 

Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day

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