Paris, December 12 (ANI): ESA's (European Space Agency's) Mars Express has caught together on camera for the first time the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos.
The images were acquired with the Super Resolution Channel (SRC) of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).
The camera took 130 images of the moons on November 5, over a period of 1.5 minutes at intervals of 1s, speeding up to 0.5-s intervals toward the end.
The image resolution is 110 m/pixel for Phobos and 240 m/pixel for Deimos.
The Super Resolution Channel of the HRSC uses an additional lens, which has a very narrow field of view of just 0.5 degree, providing four times the resolution of the HRSC color stereo channel.
Phobos, the larger of the two moons, orbits closer to the Red Planet, circling it every 7 hours and 39 minutes.
It travels faster relative to Mars than the Moon relative to Earth. It was 11,800 km from Mars Express when the images were taken. Deimos was 26,200 km away.
It is not often that both Martian moons are located directly in front of the camera, lined up one behind the other.
The chance to image both moons together came on November 5 when the viewing geometry was especially favorable.
The plan to image both moons at once was years in the making and was made possible by the unique elliptical orbit of Mars Express, precise knowledge of the orbits of the planet, the moons and the spacecraft, as well as fortuitous viewing geometry, and perfect planning by the ESA and HRSC teams.
Apart from their 'wow' factor, these unique images will help the HRSC team validate and refine existing orbit models of the two moons. (ANI)