An image taken on February 25, 2020, shows Phobos while in eclipse, where Mars' shadow completely blocked sunlight from reaching the moon's surface.
Along with scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and Arizona State University, Edwards used the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) onboard the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter to capture the images from about 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) above the moon's surface to measure temperature variations during different phases -- waxing, waning and full: An image taken on December 9, 2019, shows the surface of Phobos at its maximum temperature, 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).
When reviewed in combination with three previously released images, these new images could ultimately help settle the debate over whether the planetary body is a "captured asteroid" -- pulled into perpetual orbit around Mars -- or an ancient chunk of Mars blasted off the surface by a meteorite impact.
Christopher Edwards, assistant professor in NAU's Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, just processed new images of the Martian moon Phobos that give scientists insight into the physical properties of the moon and its composition.
Edwards added, "JAXA, Japan's space agency, is sending a whole mission to investigate Phobos and Diemos (Mars' other moon) called the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX), so we're providing some good reconnaissance data for that upcoming mission!"