The European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission recently covered up its tracking of Phobos, the most profound moon orbiting Mars. Utilizing the spacecraft’s camera, the project shot photos of the strangely formed moon from many angles, the set of which have been gathered together in a video.
Noticeable in the photos is an amount of the moon’s features, such as the massive craters and other marks. Phobos connects the moon Deimos in orbiting Mars; it is immense and was first noticed back in the 1800s by Asaph Hall, an American astronomer. The ESA’s latest video displays the moon from many viewpoints, highlighting its unique rock-like form with protrusions and divots, furrows, and large depressions.
Latest Phobos Video Indicates Unique Phase Angle, and it Comes From Mars Express
The video was produced from 41 photos shot with the Mars Express spacecraft’s High-Resolution Stereo Camera’s in November. The images have almost 21MP resolution and were taken from a distance of nearly 1,491 miles. The detailed motion of the moon noticeable in the video was made by the spacecraft’s variation, according to The European Space Agency.
Moreover, the photos are highlighting a “very rare” phase angle, which represents the one between the Sun, the moon, and the camera. Such a phase begins at 17-degrees, eventually approaching almost zero degrees midway through the video. Then, it raises back to 15-degrees by the final of the video. This thing can be noticed in the illumination and darkening of the photos in the animation.
Analyzing Phobos’ phase angle at almost zero is detailed as very unique, something that can only occur somewhere up to three times a year. The ESA states the chances to shoot this event once again won’t be possible until at least April 2020. By capturing photos during this period, researchers can identify various features of the moon’s landscape highlighted by light changes.