These three views of the Martian moon Phobos were taken by NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter using its infrared camera, THEMIS. Each colour represents a different temperature range. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/SSI
For the first time, NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has caught the Martian moon Phobos during a full moon phase. Each colour in this new image represents a temperature range detected by Odyssey’s infrared camera, which has been studying the Martian moon since September of 2017. Looking like a rainbow-coloured jawbreaker, these latest observations could help scientists understand what materials make up Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two moons.
Odyssey is NASA’s longest-lived Mars mission. Its heat-vision camera, the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), can detect changes in surface temperature as Phobos circles Mars every seven hours. Different textures and minerals determine how much heat THEMIS detects.
“This new image is a kind of temperature bullseye – warmest in the middle and gradually cooler moving out,” says Jeffrey Plaut, Odyssey project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, United States, which leads the mission. “Each Phobos observation is done from a slightly different angle or time of day, providing a new kind of data.”
On 24 April 2019, THEMIS ...