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Mars' tiny potato-shaped moons captured facing each other in stunning Nasa image

February 25, 2018 2:30 PM
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Mars' tiny potato-shaped moons captured facing each other in stunning Nasa image

Nasa's Odyssey spacecraft was flying 5,615km away from Phobos and nearly 20,000km away from Deimos when the images were captured.

Nasa has shared a brilliant new shot showcasing tiny Martian moons in an epic cosmic 'face-off'.

Phobos can be seen up-close in the foreground of the shot, while Deimos appears as a tiny space object, sitting several thousand kilometres away from its sibling.

In the image, which was taken on 18 February, both moons look like potato-shaped objects sitting alone in the cosmos.

In comparison to the Earth's massive spherical moon, the two satellites are very small, with Phobos being 27km wide and Deimos spanning 15km across. They both feature impact craters, but Deimos lacks the grooves and ridges found on Phobos.

Nasa also shared an animation of this 'face-off', in which Phobos appears to be rising upwards. However, as the space agency noted, this is not the motion of the moon but an effect created with the progression of the camera used for capturing the image.

Nasa created this animation with a set of 19 images taken with its Mars Odyssey orbiter's Thermal Emission Imaging System or THEMIS camera. The spacecraft, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2001, used the camera for 17 seconds and took these shots in both visible and infrared wavelengths.

Odyssey was flying 5,615km away from Phobos and nearly 20,000km away from Deimos when the images were captured.

The spacecraft has been observing Mars' surface and chemical features for quite a while now. However, its unique ability to capture Martian moons was developed only recently when the agency figured out a way to turn it around to point the THEMIS camera at the moons.

Source: ibtimes.co.uk

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