ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Phobos: The closest and biggest moon of Mars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MOM, Phobos

Mains level : Quest for Mars and its possibility to host life

The Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has captured the image of Phobos, the closest and biggest moon of Mars.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q.Which region of Mars has a densely packed river deposit indicating this planet had water 3.5 billion years ago?

(a) Aeolis Dorsa (b) Tharsis (c) Olympus Mons (d) Hellas

About Phobos

  • Phobos is the innermost and larger of the two natural satellites of Mars, the other being Deimos.
  • Both moons were discovered in 1877 by American astronomer Asaph Hall.
  • Phobos is a small, irregularly shaped object with a mean radius of 11 km and is seven times as massive as the outer moon, Deimos.
  • Phobos is largely believed to be made up of carbonaceous chondrites.
  • The violent phase that Phobos has encountered is seen in the large section gouged out from a past collision (Stickney crater) and bouncing ejecta.

Back2Basics: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

  • The MOM also called Mangalyaan is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • It aims at studying the Martian surface and mineral composition as well as scans its atmosphere for methane (an indicator of life on Mars).
  • It is India’s first interplanetary mission and it made it the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
  • It made India the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit and the first nation in the world to do so on its maiden attempt.
  • It was initially meant to last six months, but subsequently, ISRO had said it had enough fuel for it to last “many years.”
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