One of the closest photos ever made of Phobos, the largest of Mars’ two moons, was released today taken from a flyby March 7th by the Mars Express spacecraft of the European Space Agency. They show the cratered, potato-shaped 27 kilometer-wide moon of Mars in great detail, including a landing site to be used in 2011 for the Phobos-Grunt mission by the Russian Space Agency, which will collect samples and return them to Earth. What’s more, the Planetary Society will test whether microorganisms such as bacteria can survive the journey to Phobos and back to Earth in their Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment.
During March of 2010 Mars Express will complete 12 flybys of Phobos, taking photographs and gravity measurements which might answer science questions about it, such as whether it was once an asteroid later captured by Mars, and whether it might have water ice inside. Images shown here include one done in 3-D.
Jorge Salazar has conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists in the process of creating science content for EarthSky. He also helps host the 90-second EarthSky podcasts. Jorge has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He knows a lot about a lot of different things. For EarthSky, he has explored subjects as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. His penetrating research style, poetic writing, and ability to track down and speak with Nobel prize-winning laureates, all make him a huge asset to EarthSky.