Phobos and Deimos – Fear and Panic – are the two known moons of the red planet Mars. Here is the larger moon, Phobos, which orbits closely above Mars’ surface. ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft acquired this image in 2010.
According to Jason Major, who posted this image in his blog Lights in the Dark, Mars’ surface features appear slightly wavy due to motion of the Mars Express spacecraft’s camera, which gathers data line-by-line rather than as a single full-frame.
Since the Mars Express spacecraft began sending back science data from Mars orbit in early 2004, it has been granted five mission extensions, the latest until 2014. More great images of Phobos from Mars Express here.
A special thank you to Joe Hansen at It’s Okay to be Smart, who linked to this photo from his feed @jtotheizzoe on Twitter last week and helped us find some info. Thanks, Joe!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.