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Chris Riley
Writer, broadcaster and film maker, specialising in science and history
Writer, broadcaster and film maker, specialising in science and history
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Celebrating British Astronaut Tim Peake's first orbits of the Earth - in collaboration with composer Úlfur Eldjárn 

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That's quite a Moon!
Mars Moon Phobos 360 Animation | European Space Agency
The innermost moon of Mars, Phobos, is seen here in full 360 degree glory. The images were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA’s Mars Express at various times throughout the mission’s 10 years.

The moon’s parallel sets of grooves are perhaps the most striking feature, along with the giant 9 km-wide Stickney impact crater that dominates one face of the 27 x 22 x 18 km moon.

The origin of the moon’s grooves is a subject of much debate. One idea assumes that the crater chains are associated with impact events on the moon itself.

Another idea suggests they result from Phobos moving through streams of debris thrown up from impacts 6000 km away on the surface of Mars, with each ‘family’ of grooves corresponding to a different impact event.

Mars Express has imaged Phobos from a wide range of distances, but will make its closest flyby yet on December 29, 2013, at just 45 km above the moon.

Although this is too close to take images, gravity experiments will give insight into the interior structure of Phobos.

Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
Release Date: 20/12/2013

+European Space Agency, ESA +DLR, German Aerospace Center 

#Mars #Phobos #ESA #Express #HRSC #Moon #Space #Astronomy #Animation

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Think it was turtles... but that might be quibbling!
Tortoises Orbited the Moon Before Astronauts Did

In September 1968, the Soviet Union launched the space probe Zond 5 on a mission to orbit the moon and test conditions as a prelude to a possible lunar mission by cosmonauts. In addition to a life-size human mannequin equipped with radiation detectors, the spacecraft carried a number of living passengers, including a pair of Russian tortoises that newspaper reports initially described as "turtles." After a week in space, Zond 5 returned to Earth and, despite a failure of crucial altitude detectors, successfully splashed down in the Indian Ocean.

Along with the other creatures, the tortoises were rescued and brought back to the Soviet Union for study. The Soviets revealed that the tortoises had lost about 10 percent of their body weight, and showed an "excessive content" of glycogen and iron in their liver tissue and some changes in their spleens. Otherwise, though, the tortoises remained active and showed no loss of appetite, according to NASA.
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