NASA’s Hubble Telescope just has a rare encounter with Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. The Hubble has captured Mars’ football-shaped tiny moon Phobos. NASA’s Huble Telescope took 13 separate exposures over the course of 22 minutes. With the help of these exposures, the astronomers created a time-lapse video, revealing the diminutive moon’s orbital path.
Intended to capture Mars, the cameo appearance of Phobos, which is just 16.5 miles by 13.5 miles by 11 miles, was a bonus, NASA said in a statement.
Mars moon Phobos takes just 7 hours and 39 minutes to complete an orbit, faster that the rotation of the red planet. The moon rises in the Martian west and in the course of one Martian day, which is about 24 hours and 40 minutes, it runs three laps around the Red Planet.
On August 17, 1877, astronomer Asaph Hall at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. had discovered the Mars moon Phobos. The discovery was made six days after he found the smaller, outer moon, named Deimos.
Both moons are named after the sons of Ares, the Greek god of war, who was known as Mars in Roman mythology.
According to scientists’ prediction, it will either crash into Mars or be torn to pieces and scattered as a ring around the red planet within 30 to 50 million years.
The photos of Phobos orbiting Mars were captured by Hubble on May 12, 2016. Mars was 50 million miles from Earth at that time.
The Hubble is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.