Tasty Martian Moon

NASA lately introduced that its Mars Odyssey orbiter took a tasty snapshot of the Martian moon Phobos utilizing its infrared digital camera.

Since 2001, Odyssey has been dutifully orbiting the Pink Planet. Billed as wanting “like a rainbow-colored jawbreaker,” the colourful pictures might assist scientists decide extra concerning the floor of Phobos and, maybe, put together to in the future land a spacecraft there.

Three thermal pictures of the Martian moon Phobos as seen by Odyssey in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Supply: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/SSI

Sweet Flip

Every coloration within the picture represents a special temperature, and additional evaluation might assist clue NASA researchers into what awaits on Phobos’ floor. Odyssey first turned its thermal digital camera towards Phobos in late 2017, however that is the primary time it’s caught Phobos throughout its full moon section, that means extra mild was shed on its floor, leading to a extra colourful picture.

“With the half-moon views, we might see how tough or easy the floor is and the way it’s layered,” stated Joshua Bandfield, a senior analysis scientist on the Area Sciences Institute, stated in a press launch, “Now we’re gathering information on what minerals are in it, together with metals.”

Preliminary evaluation means that Phobos incorporates some iron and nickel. The precise amount of every might assist decide whether or not Phobos was as soon as part of Mars or if it fashioned from chunks of asteroids.

Area Base

Whereas Phobos has lengthy been a goal of missions launched by each the Russian house company and NASA, no craft has efficiently set down on its floor. That makes a 2024 pattern return mission to the moon deliberate by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company all of the extra thrilling.

Phobos has, prior to now, been thought of as a risk for human base constructing in an effort to help crewed missions to Mars. Figuring out the moon’s actual make-up would drastically assist in planning such a settlement — and that’s what makes these colourful candids even sweeter.

READ MORE: Why This Martian Full Moon Appears to be like Like Sweet [NASA JPL]

Extra on Mars Missions: Japan’s Area Company Will Be Going to the Moons of Mars in 2024