Mars Express Investigations of Phobos and Deimos
O. Witasse et al (too many again)
The Mars Express mission was launched in June 2003 and was inserted into orbit around Mars in December 2003. Its main objective is to study the Mars' subsurface, surface, atmosphere and interaction with the solar wind. A secondary objective is to study the martian moons, in particular the largest one Phobos, thanks to a near polar and elliptical orbit which allows the spacecraft to perform close flybys about every five months. The Mars Express data not only consist of high-resolution 3D color images, but also astrometric images, spectra from 0.18 to 20 μm, radar echoes, Doppler signals from gravity experiments, and ion data. A new view of the moons has emerged from this data set, favoring now the idea that they are not captured asteroids, but rather the result of a re-accretion following a major impact on Mars. This unique set of data is available in the ESA Planetary Science Archive (PSA) and mirror imaged in the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS). This paper presents an overview of the Mars Express Phobos flybys, the specificities of their operations and the scientific achievements.