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  • Imaging the Moons of Mars and Earth
    Posted by Heather Goss 3:16 AM on Mar 18, 2010

    If anyone is geeking out about the information published from space missions this week, it must be the geologists.

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    Mars Express HRSC image of Phobos, taken on 7 March 2010. Credit ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

    Mars Express is a European Space Agency spacecraft launched in 2003, which completed its primary mission in 2007 and has been granted extensions until at least 2012.  Phobos, Mars' moon, is the most recent destination for the craft, as it continues to go on fly-bys to the far side (Phobos is like Earth's Moon in that the same side always faces the planet) throughout March, imaging the surface at a resolution of 4.4 meters per pixel.  The images will not only help scientists determine more about the composition of the moon, but may also help them resolve how Phobos became Mars' captive -- was it formed around the planet from debris, or was it an existing asteroid ensnared by gravity?  (The best place to keep up with Mars Express news is at its blog.)

    And then there's our Moon, which the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to image in amazing detail.  The LRO team released a video this week, a visual compiled from data from three of its instruments -- it truly a thing of beauty and must be watched and not ineptly described. 

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    Credit: NASA/GSFC/ASU

    Furthermore, the Planetary Data System officially released data from each of the seven instruments onboard LRO last Monday.  During its one year mission, the spacecraft is likely to collect 130 terabytes of data; this first release of 55 terabytes will allow researches to dig in and see what they can find in this massive amount of information. 

    Tags: os99, esu, mars express, LRO, geology

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