Pho­bos up-close

All About Space - - Mars Express -

On this date Mars Ex­press made its clos­est ap­proach of Mars’ largest moon, Pho­bos, fly­ing just 67 kilo­me­tres

(41 miles) above its sur­face. Dur­ing this brief win­dow of op­por­tu­nity Mars Ex­press was able to con­duct a grav­ity ex­per­i­ment and pro­duce some out­stand­ing im­ages.

Al­though it wasn’t able to study Mars' other moon, Deimos, as closely, the in­for­ma­tion col­lected on Pho­bos was enough for as­tronomers to re­think its ori­gins. Orig­i­nally it was thought that these moons were cap­tured as­ter­oids. How­ever, after den­sity and min­eral com­po­si­tion anal­y­sis, it is thought that these moons – and Pho­bos in par­tic­u­lar – formed dur­ing a reac­cre­tion of rocky ma­te­rial in Mars’ or­bit.

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