Feeds

Curiosity looks up, spies Martian double-mooning

Phobos overlaps Deimos in video treat

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.