Scientists working with the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have released a new color photo of Mars’ moon which is extremely detailed and shows off some impressive clarity.
The photo of Phobos was taken with MRO’s main camera from about 4,200 miles away. The Phobos itself spans just over 16-miles.
The picture was one of two that were taken during a March 23 flyby.
Some people have proposed that the first human missions to Mars land on Phobos to avoid the added complexity of landing on Mars and then launching again from the bottom of Mars’ gravity well. The gravity on Phobos is only 1/1000th the gravity of Earth.
Many scientists believe that due to the small amount of gravity on the Mars’ moon, along with other factors, this may be the next best place for humans to live in the solar system.
The large impact crater on the front of Phobos is called Stickney crater. It is 9 km in diameter and features grooves and crater chains that appear radial to it. There are different hypothesis as to whether these were formed by the same event that caused the Stickney crater, or they were caused by ejecta (rocks etc) from comet or asteroid impacts on Mars that were thrown up from the surface of the planet and later collided with Phobos.
Phobos is expected to be the focus of a huge Russian-Chinese space mission set for 2009.
NASA has stated that Phobos may be rich in water ice, as well as carbon-rich materials.