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Orbiter captures Mars' smaller moon Deimos


Deimos, Moon of Mars Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NEW YORK (BNS): NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured images of Deimos, the smaller of the two moons of Mars, on February 21.

Deimos has a smooth surface due to a blanket of fragmental rock or regolith, except for the most recent impact craters.

It is a dark, reddish object, very similar to Phobos. The enhanced high-resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) took images of Phobos on March 23, 2008.

According to NASA, there are subtle color variations--redder in the smoothest areas and less red near fresh impact craters and over ridges or topographic highs (relative to its center of gravity).

These color variations are probably caused by the exposure of surface materials to the space environment, which leads to darkening and reddening. Brighter and less-red surface materials have seen less exposure to space due to recent impacts or down slope movement of regolith.

“With an image scale of about 20 meters/pixel, features 60 m or larger can be discerned. The images were acquired 5 hrs 35 minutes apart, so the sun was to the upper left in the first (left) image and to the right in the second image. Although the viewing geometry is similar in the two images, surface features appear very different due to the changes in illumination,” the agency said.

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