Courtesy of NASA’s Curiosity rover, you can see one of Mars’ two tiny moons climbing high into the skies over the Red Planet. To view Phobos rising, check out the video below.
The video is compiled of 86 separate frames that were snapped by Curiosity’s navigation camera. It shows the Mars moon Phobos rising on June 28, shortly after sunset.
Curiosity has a Twitter feed. And, why shouldn’t it? Curious people want to know as much as they can about the NASA Curiosity rover and what is being learned about Mars from this NASA mission.
One NASA official wrote on the feed on July 1, 2013, on behalf of the rover:
You asked for the moon. Here it is! See footage from my Navcam of Mars’ moon Phobos rising.”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much are 86 photos worth?
The complete video of Phobos rising — Deimos is Mars’ other moon — lasts just 32 seconds. It took longer than that to put the individual photos together, though, as the action the video depicts took place over the course of 27 minutes.
You can see a large, diffuse ring in the video. According to officials, it’s an artifact caused by the scattering of light inside the camera.
How much are 86 words worth? To paraphrase a credit card commercial, the photos and the resultant video are priceless. The creation of this video might have cost a lot of money, but whatever the cost, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the over-all Mars mission.
The potential benefits mankind will reap from the new knowledge NASA is discovering, in my opinion, are worth whatever the ultimate monetary cost might be.
How large is Phobos?
Phobos is a relatively small moon. It’s just 14 miles (22 kilometers) wide on average. Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is even smaller. The moons of Mars might be, according to many scientists, former asteroids captured by the Red Planet’s gravity long ago.
It’d been almost a year since NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars. It touched down there inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater last August. This momentous event kicked off a planned two-year surface mission to determine if the Red Planet could ever have supported life of any kind, even at the microbial level.
In March, because of images and data sent back to Earth by Curiosity, mission scientists announced that a site called Yellowknife Bay was habitable billions of years ago. This, in itself, is not proof that Mars once had living organisms which inhabited it; but, conditions were right for it to have supported life then.
Curiosity is currently preparing for its big trek. The rover is getting set to start heading for its ultimate destination. That is the base of the mysterious Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the sky from Gale Crater’s center.
So far, Nasa’s Curiosity rover has captured the rise of Mars’ moon, Phobos. Will it soon also capture evidence of life on the Red Planet?
Check out the black-and-white video of Phobos rising below!
Written by: Douglas Cobb
Here is a very brief video of Phobos rising. It’s so small, it’s like a moving dot.