MONDAY ASTRONOMY PICTURE PONDERINGS 8/8/2022
Who’s Scared of the Little Potato Moon of Mars?
Welcome back to the Monday Astronomy Picture Ponderings (MAPPs) series where every Monday I normally pick one of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) entries from the past seven days to focus on in some way.
Saturday, August 6th’s NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day featured a stereo anaglyph view of Phobos, making it viewable in blue-red 3-D glasses if you have any lying around or want to DIY some. If you don’t, you can still get a basic idea of the moon’s shape and texture without them. The 3D glasses just provide more depth, which is very cool.
Now, you may be looking at the lumpy potato above and thinking that it looks nothing like our moon, so how could it be a moon? Very briefly, a moon is any naturally orbiting object around a planet (a satellite). While our moon is fairly spherical, a bright white with darker areas, not all are. In fact, there are many different types of moons. If you want to learn more about what makes a moon, a moon, feel free to check out one of my previous articles below.
Earth is actually the only planet in our solar system to have only one moon! Mars, for instance, has two: Phobos and Deimos. Mars is the Roman God of War and Phobos and Deimos are the son of Ares, the Greek God of War. Many of the astronomical bodies in our solar system are named after Roman and Greek gods and we even love to mix and match! Phobos means panic or fear and Deimos terror or dread. They often accompanied their father into battle which makes sense as war can inspire panic and terror.
Both are very small compared to our moon and look closer to lumpy potatoes. The prevailing theory for how they formed is that Mars snatched them out…