Mars’ moon Phobos in 3-D!

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.

March 15, 2010

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