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Solar System Exploration
Two Moons Passing in the Night
Two Moons Passing in the Night (click to enlarge)

Two Moons Passing in the Night
Date: 26 Aug 2005

Taking advantage of extra solar energy collected during the day, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit settled in for an evening of stargazing, photographing the two moons of Mars as they crossed the night sky. "It is incredibly cool to be running an observatory on another planet," said planetary scientist Jim Bell of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., lead scientist for the panoramic cameras on Spirit and Opportunity. In this animation, both martian moons, Deimos on the left and Phobos on the right, travel across the night sky in front of the constellation Sagittarius. Part of Sagittarius resembles an upside-down teapot. Phobos is the brighter object on the right; Deimos is on the left.

Spirit acquired these enhanced-brightness images with the panoramic camera on the night of sol 585 (Aug. 26, 2005). Scientists will use images of the two moons to better map their orbital positions, learn more about their composition, and monitor the presence of nighttime clouds or haze. Spirit took the six images that make up this animation using the camera's broadband filter, which was designed specifically for acquiring images under low-light conditions.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/ Texas A&M

Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M

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