×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Mars Express Orbiter Buzzes Martian Moon Phobos

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the watch-out-for-imps dept.

Mars 39

astroengine writes "On Sunday, at 5:17 p.m. GMT (12:17 p.m. EST), Europe's Mars Express orbiter successfully completed a daring low-pass of Mars' largest moon Phobos. In an effort to precisely measure the gravitational field of the moon, the 10 year-old mission was sent on a trajectory that took it only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the dusty surface, the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the natural satellite."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

39 comments

Big whoop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45824055)

Big whoop. I jizzed in Unknown Lamer's asshole 15 minutes ago in the 3rd floor men's room stalls at Dice headquarters.

Re:Big whoop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825163)

Cool, while you were doing that I took a daring pass at his Mom!

Re:Big whoop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825735)

The 350lb whale? Gross...

British Colonialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45824119)

Is it dead, or can the lunatics make it work? One thing they'll have going for them is the lack of human or workers rights advocacy and monitoring organizations on the moon. But even if the automated systems work more reliably and with fewer complaints than their biological counterparts, it will cost a fortune to transport and maintain such robotics so far away from the home of the luddites, unions and the down trodden. How will anyone actually benefit from such efforts to mine the moon for materials that will be so much more costly?

On the surface (5, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about 4 months ago | (#45824135)

Here is a simulated view of the Mars Express pass from the surface of Phobos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-YlKEKt-_k [youtube.com]

However, the simulation missed something - Mars Express has a 40 meter dipole antenna - at 45 km, that's 3 arc min, so you could see Sun glint on the dipoles with your naked eye (i.e., you could resolve it as a structure, not just a dot of light). With a pair of binoculars, you could even see the spacecraft's solar panels.

Re:On the surface (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 months ago | (#45824737)

How about some closeup pictures of the satellite? The photo in the link in TFS was from 2010.

I'm disappointed. Oh, well.

Re:On the surface (1)

mbone (558574) | about 4 months ago | (#45826289)

How about some closeup pictures of the satellite? The photo in the link in TFS was from 2010.

I'm disappointed. Oh, well.

Here you go [albertoconti.com] (from 2010, but pretty up close and personal).

Re:On the surface (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 3 months ago | (#45827485)

The thing is, this pass was supposed to be the closest, I've already seen the 2010 photos.

Re:On the surface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45828789)

It wasn't that kind of flyby. No photos.

Re:On the surface (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 3 months ago | (#45846767)

They had to keep the antenna pointed at Earth to get Doppler data from the signal. This meant that the cameras had to point somewhere else :)

From the comment section on the update:

Hi Gorp: No pics on this one! Radio science only. MEX was moving too fast for decent photos, and its communication antenna had to be pointed toward Earth throughout, meaning its cameras were NOT pointed at Phobos... so no pics. We have some nice ones coming up taken around 20 December...

Re: On the surface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45827109)

Wow, did i just actually watch a white dot travel across a black screen for a whole minute?

Re: On the surface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45827219)

actually what u did was to warn me not to!~

No pictures this time (5, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about 4 months ago | (#45824205)

This was a radiometric (Doppler tracking) pass, with the main antenna pointed at the Earth. Pictures would have required re-orienting the spacecraft, and ideally rotating it to remove any motion blur on the close approach. You cannot do that and keep lock on the Earth, and they wanted to nail down the mass of Phobos. Initial reports from the DSN are the the Phobos gravity Doppler shift was visible in the "raw" residuals, so it's likely they will meet this goal.

Re:No pictures this time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825429)

This was a radiometric (Doppler tracking) pass, with the main antenna pointed at the Earth. Pictures would have required re-orienting the spacecraft, and ideally rotating it to remove any motion blur on the close approach. You cannot do that and keep lock on the Earth, and they wanted to nail down the mass of Phobos. Initial reports from the DSN are the the Phobos gravity Doppler shift was visible in the "raw" residuals, so it's likely they will meet this goal.

They're actually covering up a top secret teleportation experiment that went horribly wrong. After a frantic distress call, and Deimos disappearing completely, they're sending in the marines to investigate...

Off to Phobos (1)

grub (11606) | about 4 months ago | (#45824209)

"[S]ent on a trajectory that took it only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the dusty surface"

What is the range of a BFG?

Re:Off to Phobos (1)

mbone (558574) | about 4 months ago | (#45824361)

"[S]ent on a trajectory that took it only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the dusty surface"

What is the range of a BFG?

In the context, effectively infinite, as the escape velocity is ~ 10 m / sec. In fact, that would be true for almost any projectile - a fastball in baseball is 90 mph or 40 m / sec.

Now, hitting a target 45 km away moving at a few km / sec relative velocity is another matter...

Re:Off to Phobos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45824615)

Obviously you've never played Q3 arena. That's an easy hit after you get used to the rail gun.

Wow. What a moon. (1, Interesting)

dubdays (410710) | about 4 months ago | (#45824693)

Not to take anything away from the orbiter team, but damn...that moon looks almost as exciting as a lump of coal. What a crappy black rock.

Re:Wow. What a moon. (1)

dubdays (410710) | about 4 months ago | (#45824743)

What a crappy black rock.

Okay, I was wrong...the photo was black and white. It would have been nice if they shot it with a color camera (unless, of course, that's coming later).

Re:Wow. What a moon. (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#45825537)

What a crappy black rock.

Okay, I was wrong...the photo was black and white. It would have been nice if they shot it with a color camera (unless, of course, that's coming later).

Color photography from spacecraft is a sub-disipline of spectroscopy. They take monochrome images with different filters, then produce color pictures from the composites.

Small...very small moon. (4, Informative)

dubdays (410710) | about 4 months ago | (#45824787)

The dimensions of this moon is only 13.4 × 11.2 × 9.2 km [wikipedia.org]. Pretty tiny, it seems to me, for a planet the size of Mars.

Re: Small...very small moon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45824877)

That's what she said...

Re:Small...very small moon. (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#45826079)

Phobos and Deimos are both almost certainly captured asteroids, rather than having formed in the planet's orbit like the moons of the gas giants and Earth.

Closest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825369)

I'm pretty sure we've sent satellites plummeting into the ground of stellar bodies at terminal velocity due to software and/or math errors. Hard to get closer than that.

Re:Closest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45834531)

Yes, because clearly they aren't referring to a controlled flyby.

Already Been Done And Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45826173)

The timeless film 'Robinson Crusoe On Mars' details what has already been accomplished.

Were Nasa to study the film in detail frame per frame down to the silver oxide on the 35 mm film they discover wonders of winders and maybe General Astro-nut His Majesties Fleet Ship Of The Royal Realm Charlie Bolden might just fell a bit .. er well ... Bolden.

Pity that Nasa on spends just a tad over 0.01% USGDP and gets nothing in return. A sad economy of reducing returns.

Should Charlie get .... Bolden ... then Nasa might just propose ... something! ... a bit more insightful than a pencil with erasure on both ends!

Lordy Lordy

Why were the Soviets obsessed with Phobos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45828257)

Did they really think it was an artificial satellite like I. S. Shklovski and Carl Sagan suggested in "Intelligent Life in the Universe"?

A close-up look at Phobos (1)

jtollefson (1675120) | about 3 months ago | (#45828295)

It's about time we got some reconnaisance on this place, I remember many years ago stories of people fighting the most hellish of beasts here!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...