Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter eye candy: HiRISE images Deimos
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
09-03-2009 16:05 CDT
Mars' outer moon Deimos is an underappreciated sibling to the larger, closer, and much-better-mapped Phobos, so I was delighted to see today that the sharp-eyed HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently captured two lovely color images of Deimos. Without further ado, here they are. Just to be different from the bajillion other space bloggers who'll likely post these photos today, I've rotated both of the images so that the north pole is up and the equator is (roughly) horizontal.Deimos is relatively poorly studied because all modern Mars spacecraft orbit at altitudes much lower than Deimos' 20,000 kilometers. Since Deimos, like nearly every moon in the solar system (including our own), is tidally locked to its planet, that means that all orbiters see only one face of the moon, the "sub-Mars hemisphere," and that at a great distance. Phobos orbits much closer to Mars (at 9,400 kilometers), which is still above the altitude of the circular, polar orbiters like Mars Global Surveyor, Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, but it's below the apoapsis of Mars Express, and is now being well mapped from all sides.
One indicator of how little attention has been paid to Deimos is the number of place names that have been formally approved for it. Are you ready for the complete map of all named places on Deimos? Here you go:For more fun with Deimos, here's a link to my earlier post on Chuck Clark's cut-and-assemble model of Deimos; here's views of both Phobos and Deimos from CRISM, the imaging spectrometer on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; and here's some random space facts on Phobos and Deimos from Bruce Betts.
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