Topic: Curiosity Mars rover mission
WASHINGTON, August 16 (RIA Novosti) – Like the proverbial two ships passing in the night, the two moons of Mars passed directly by each other earlier this month, one eclipsing the other in such a way that, incredibly, the images were captured by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity and released this week in a time-lapse video.
The sped-up view shows Deimos, the smaller of the two moons, completely obscured as the much larger Phobos passes directly in front of it.
The pictures were captured Aug. 1 through a telephoto-lens camera mounted on Curiosity’s Mastcam, and show fine details like the large craters on Phobos, which are clearly visible. The diameter of Phobos is less than one percent of the diameter of Earth’s moon, but is much closer to Mars than Earth’s moon is to Earth.
"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, an associate professor of Atmospheric Science at Texas A&M University and a co-investigator of Curiosity's Mastcam.
Watch the video here:
"We may also get data good enough to detect density variations within Phobos and to determine if Deimos' orbit is systematically changing," he added in a NASA press release.
Lemmon and his colleagues realized the two moons would be crossing paths shortly after Curiosity was “awake” and able to send data that could be received on Earth, which made capturing the photos easier to achieve with limited budgetary impact.
The event marks the first time images taken from the surface of Mars have ever shown one moon being eclipsed by the other.
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