Phobos photobombs Mars in Hubble view

Mars and Phobos
This multiple-exposure photo shows 22 minutes’ worth of Phobos’ orbit around Mars. (NASA / ESA / STScI Photo / Z. Levay)

Leave it to tiny Phobos to horn in on Mars’ glory in an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The view of the Red Planet and the larger of its two moons, released today, is actually a testament to the orbiting observatory’s sharper vision.

Phobos is an irregular hunk of rock and ice, measuring no more than 16.5 miles in diameter. It’s small enough to sit comfortably inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C. (although residents of the nation’s capital would be none too comfortable).

Despite its status as one of the solar system’s smallest moons, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 could pick out Phobos easily against the black background of space in a series of images acquired over the course of 22 minutes on May 12, 2016.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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