Phobos slips past Jupiter (w/ video)

Jun 17, 2011
Three frames from the series of 104 taken by Mars Express during the Phobos-Jupiter conjunction on 1 June 2011. Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

(PhysOrg.com) -- Earlier this month, ESA's Mars Express performed a special manoeuvre to observe an unusual alignment of Jupiter and the martian moon Phobos. The impressive images have now been processed into a movie of this rare event.

At the moment when Mars Express, Phobos, and Jupiter aligned on 1 June 2011, there was a distance of 11 389 km between the spacecraft and Phobos, and a further 529 million km to Jupiter.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
A movie of the encounter made by combining 100 images of the June 1, 2011 Phobos-Jupiter conjunction. The High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express took this sequence. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

The on Mars Express was kept fixed on Jupiter for the conjunction, ensuring that the planet remained static in the frame. The operation returned a total of 104 images over a period of 68 seconds, all of them taken using the camera's super-resolution channel.

By knowing the exact moment when Jupiter passed behind Phobos, the observation will help to verify and even improve our knowledge of the orbital position of the .

The trajectories of Phobos and Mars Express at the time of the conjunction with Jupiter on 1 June 2011. The graphic was created using Celestia software. The letter ‘S’ denotes the South Pole of Mars

The images shown here were processed at the Department of Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing at the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Freie Universität Berlin.

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User comments : 4

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panorama
not rated yet Jun 17, 2011
Isn't Mars supposed to lose one of its moons at some point in the future? Is it this one or both? Also, I wonder if at that point if humans are still around would we have the technology to fix the orbit? "Change the gravitational constant of the universe..."
Pyle
5 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2011
unusual alignment
Funny to call something unusual when you purposefully line it up that way with "a special manoeuvre".
Pretty cool all the same.

Let's drink a round for one less belt miner meeting his demise due to poor oribital mechanics models.
Ramael
5 / 5 (1) Jun 17, 2011
Big woop, Phobos isn't even a real moon.

@panorama, yeah, one or both of mars's moons have unstable orbits, because they're both captured debris. Supposedly mars had dozens of these moons at one point. Probably from when the fifth rocky body broke up and formed the asteroid belt.
Going
not rated yet Jun 17, 2011
I seem to recall that Earth's Moon will eventually move out of orbit as it is picking up energy by slowing the rotation of the Earth through tidal friction.