Feeds

Curiosity looks up, spies Martian double-mooning

Phobos overlaps Deimos in video treat

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Video As Curiosity trundles across the Martian surface, the bulk of NASA's interest has been focused downwards at the ground, but the rover has also been looking up and has captured some remarkable video of the two moons of Mars overlapping each other overhead.

The images captured by the telephoto lens in Curiosity's Mast Camera show Phobos, the largest of Mars' twin moons, eclipsing its smaller and more distant brother Deimos. The rover was able to capture the conjunction on August 1 and beam the data up to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for transmission back to Earth.

NASA knows enough about the orbital paths of the moons to ensure that Curiosity was looking up at the right time, and the new images will be used to calculate their orbits with much greater precision than before, measure their influence on their home planet, and provide a look at the craters of Phobos.

"The ultimate goal is to improve orbit knowledge enough that we can improve the measurement of the tides Phobos raises on the Martian solid surface, giving knowledge of the Martian interior," said Mark Lemmon, co-investigator for use of Curiosity's Mastcam.

"We may also get data good enough to detect density variations within Phobos and to determine if Deimos' orbit is systematically changing," he added.

Current measurements suggest that Deimos is moving away from the Martian surface, albeit at a very slow rate. Phobos orbits Mars much closer to the surface, and is to be spiraling inwards. It's thought that it will eventually be broken up and form a planetary ring around Mars. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.