In a rare sighting, Hubble, NASA’s space telescope, has captured one of Mars’ moons in the most unexpected way. Read on to know how Phobos photobombs Mars.
The space telescope Hubble only intended to capture images of the planet Mars. But as he was taking pictures of the Red Planet, an accidental photobomber made a cameo appearance, Phobos. It’s one of Mars’ natural satellites. The other one is Deimos. Phobos is the inner satellite while Deimos is the outer moon. They’re both named after the sons of Ares which is believed to be Mars as well as in Roman mythology. In mythology, Ares and Mars are gods of war. Phobos and Deimos are the Greek gods of fear and terror.
Hubble was doing round with 13 separate exposures that allowed astronomers to form a time-lapse video. Their course went on for 22 minutes. The video shows the little orbital path of the moon.
Phobos is the natural satellite on the inner part of Mars.
It has a tiny size and an irregular shape that looks like a Rugby ball. It’s dimensions are 16.5 miles by 13.5 miles by 11 miles.
In a time span of 7 hours and 39 minutes, the little moon can complete an orbit. It’s way faster compared to Mars’ rotation which is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. One Martian day allows Phobos to run three laps around Mars. Phobos is the only natural satellite that moves around its parent planet with a shorter time than the planet’s rotation time.
The tiny moon was discovered way back in 1877, on the 17th of August. Asaph Hall discovered it at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC. He then found the outer moon Deimos just six days after the discovery of Phobos.
Some scientists have predicted that Phobos may either crash on Mars or explode to turn into tiny pieces that’ll form Mars’ ring after 30 to 50 million years from now.
The photo that was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope about the photobombing incident is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre. It’s located in Greenbelt, Maryland.