Mars Express close flybys of martian moon Phobos

January 21, 2011, European Space Agency
This image has been photometrically enhanced to illuminate darker areas. Resolution: 4.1 m/pixel. Credit: Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Mars Express has returned images from the Phobos flyby of 9 January 2011. Mars Express passed Mars' largest moon at a distance of 100km.

The HRSC-camera recorded images of Phobos on 9 January 2011 at a distance of 100 km with a resolution of 8.1 m/pixel. Due to the stereo viewing geometry during the a small part of the moon’s edge is only visible for the right eye resulting in odd 3D-perception in this area.

This part has been slightly adjusted for better viewing. Also, for the left eye at the left edge of the image four small data gaps have been interpolated.

Superimposed on the HRSC-nadir image are 7 SRC-images with a resolution of about 3 m/pixel. The Super Resolution Channel images show more details of the surface of Phobos.

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not rated yet Jan 21, 2011
My thoughts about Mars' 2 "moons" has always been that these pieces of rock are just that: 2 pieces of planetary rock of a "failed moon" that resulted in the Mars asteroid belt. These 2 rocky pieces got thrust out of the arena of the asteroid belt, but they certainly cannot be called a "moon" in the sense that it represents a complete planetary object with a core, as well as an outer crust. These 2 objects belonging to Mars need to be designated with a descriptive name as to what they really are; but certainly not moons per se.
not rated yet Jan 22, 2011
not rated yet Jan 22, 2011
potential terraforming tools
not rated yet Jan 22, 2011
potential terraforming tools

Considering at least one of them, Phobos, has a decaying orbit, it probably would be a good idea to go ahead and assist it's crashing into the planet before building a long term colony.

This cataclysmic event would transfer a huge amount of angular momentum to Mars, increasing it's rate of rotation significantly, since phobos orbits the planet faster than the planet rotates. It might require a few years or decades afterwards before the planet's geology stabilizes again, as the energy release would likely liquify a significant portion of Mars' mass, unless the moon breaks up and accretes gradually.

Because the angle of decay is so low compared to the normal for impacts, the explosion might not be as big as you expect for such a giant impact, as a higher than average percent of the energy release is stored in the form of angular momentum as compared to typically "billiard ball" style impacts. It would still be like armageddon though...
not rated yet Jan 22, 2011
It would still be like armageddon though...

Yes, but if it leads to terraforming wouldn't it also be a part of the Mars creation story as well? We should get started on the Mars prophecies now, that way when it becomes a reality we'll be famous!!! Long dead most likely, but famous!!!

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