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China spacecraft captures stunning image of Phobos, the biggest moon of Mars

China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft has shared a stunning image of Phobos, the biggest moon on Mars. Check details.

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On the second anniversary of the launch of China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission, its orbiter shared a stunning image of the biggest moon on the red planet, Phobos. This is a result of the high-resolution camera on the Tianwen 1, which was used to image the landing area for the mission’s Zhurong rover. The spacecraft took images of Phobos from a distance of 5,100 kilometers while maintaining good lighting conditions from the sun. Unlike Earth, Mars has two such moons — Phobos and Deimos.

The latest observation is set to aid the scientific understanding of the Martian moon, which is doomed to crash into Mars in tens of millions of years. Nasa has said that as Phobos circles Mars, its gravity exerts small tidal forces on the Red Planet’s interior, slightly deforming the rock in the planet’s crust and mantle. These forces also slowly change Phobos’ orbit.

The shared image of the biggest moon of Mars by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the Planetary Exploration of China (PEC) depicts the cratered world of Phobos. It also showed the Opik Crater, which was named after Estonian astronomer and astrophysicist Ernst Opik, who laid the theory of a cloud of comets beyond Pluto.

About China’s Tianwen 1 mission

Tianwen 1 was launched back on July 23, 2020, and it recently accomplished its primary scientific objectives, including surveying the whole surface of Mars over 1,300 times in a space of just over a year. It has brought back a variety of amazing photographs, such as canyons, craters on the Red Planet as well as the ”selfies” taken by tiny, disposable spacecraft that were sent there specifically for the purpose.

Along with the Zhurong rover, which touched down in Utopia Planitia in May 2021, the orbiter travelled to Mars. Winter has arrived in Mars’ northern hemisphere, therefore the solar-powered rover is currently hibernating.

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