Where In the Universe #75

Article written: 14 Oct , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

Here’s this week’s image for the WITU Challenge, to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. You know what to do: take a look at this image and see if you can determine where in the universe this image is from; give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image. We’ll provide the image today, but won’t reveal the answer until tomorrow. This gives you a chance to mull over the image and provide your answer/guess in the comment section. Please, no links or extensive explanations of what you think this is — give everyone the chance to guess.

If you need some more challenges, look back at all previous 74 Where In the Universe Challenges.

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below.

As Darth Vader once said, “All too easy.”

This is Mars moon Phobos, as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE Camera. And yes, the big impression is Stickney Crater. See more images of Phobos (and larger version), as well as more info from the HiRISE site here.

Right now, we don’t have a “hide” feature on comments. Sorry.

Check back next week for another WITU challenge.

20 Responses

  1. Mr.No.Scope says

    1) My first reaction was an electron microscope image of a dust particle returned by the Stardust mission to comet Wild 2.

    2) After reading the comments and looking at an image of Phobos, id does indeed look like it could be Phobos, but just to be different, I will stick with my number one comment as it is not identical to the image that I saw. (perspective?)

    3) I like Astrofiends idea of hiding the comments until you have posted, then being able to see them. It will have the added benefit of bringing in not only more comments, but a wider array of ideas.

  2. Gintautas says

    The Stickney Crater is the largest crater on the Martian Moon Phobos.
    This image was taken by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

  3. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    Dang too late. Phobos it is. MRO is the spacecraft


  4. Jorge says

    Ah, too easy. It’s Mars’ moon Phobos, shot by MRO.

  5. ROCA says

    Phobos (Stickney Crater) by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, HiRISE camera.

  6. Ringman says


  7. Astrofiend says

    In this case the picture was pretty easy so I think most people would instantly know it, but I think the ‘Where in the Universe’ challenge would be heaps better if there was some way of the website hiding other people’s comments/answers until you had posted yourself.

    This way, people who either know the answer or end up Googling it won’t be able to sway/ruin it for others. It sucks when there is a WITUC that you aren’t sure about, want to have a guess at, but then see twenty comments from people who’ve either Googled it or already know the answer listed down the bottom. In that case, there’s no point putting down your original thought, but equally little point in saying again what’s been said twenty time already.

    Like in this case, five people have already said Phobos by MRO. Is there any point in anybody now chiming in with their own answers, considering that we now effectively have consensus from five other people giving the answer away as soon as you go to type your own comment? Equally, if somebody thought that this was something other than Phobos, would they really just post their response anyway, only to look like a bit of a tool for their effort?

    I’m not trying to be overly critical, I just think that if there were some way of suppressing the comments prior to posting your own, or at least having those comments appear at a different location than the comment box used to enter them, then heaps more people would comment, and there would be a lot more varied and therefore interesting responses.

    I know I don’t usual bother with the WITUC, for precisely the reasons listed. If you’re not among the first 3 comments, or unless the challenge is unusually hard, it gets spoiled before you even begin.

    My 2 cents.

  8. Member
    IVAN3MAN says

    I second Astrofiend comment.

  9. Member
    IVAN3MAN says

    Correction: I second Astrofiend’s comment.

    (Also, an edit facility here would be useful!)

  10. Nathan Briggs says

    Got to be Phobos by the MRO.

  11. ESA Exile says

    Yes, Stickney, Phobos, c/o MRO. And yes, blocking the other comments until the results are announced would be better. Being in Europe the page tends to be posted when I’m asleep!

  12. Spoodle58 says

    I love this lot of images
    Stickney crater, Phobos by HiRISE

  13. tielenaar says

    What a beautiful photo! It wasn’t hard to guess, but I didn’t know for sure until I read the comments.
    And yes, a hide comments function for WITU pages would be great.

  14. hroethbert says

    Interesting photo, I have not seen Phobos like this before.

    What has caused the striations away from the crater?
    Surely Phobos’ gravity is far too weak for these to be caused by ejecta, especially so with the crater being so large.

    Sorry , first post, I’m just a noob.

  15. HeinDuPlessis says

    Amazing image, but you had this already on Universe Today, April 9, 2008 !

  16. Astrofiend says

    hroethbert Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:00 am

    “Sorry , first post, I’m just a noob.”

    Why be sorry? That sort of question/discussion is what this site is all about!

    It is an interesting question. I’ve got no immediate answer… Maybe if it’s tidally locked to Mars, it gradually regathered some material from the initial collision as it continued to orbit? If it’s tidally locked, then the material could conceivably come in from the forward facing direction and deposit on the surface causing striations. Wild guess though…

  17. SteveZodiac says

    I recognised it from Celestia as Stickney Crater on Phobos but it almost looks like it’s made of shiny metal in this photo. hroethbert’s question is a good one the obvious web page to look at says Equatorial surface gravity 0.0084–0.0019 m/s² (8.4-1.9 mm/s²) (860-190 µg) and that entry also poses the same question, I wonder if it was hit by a big fluffy comet and the material of the comet got smeared around teh crater it created.

  18. SteveZodiac says

    doh! and if I had read the article properly I would have seen the probable explanation

  19. Richard Kirk says

    Am I alone in thinking this picture looks amazingly bogus? It looks like someone has wrapped some texture around an object, and hasn’t corrected for the lighting or the anti-aliasing. The edges of Stickney all have the sort of artifact you will see on Google Earth when you look at the South Pole, where texture photographed at grazing incidence is mapped onto a solid. Then there is the edge of the crater with the white-blue texture that doesn’t seem to share the same lighting, and the features seem all pulled out towards the top right hand edge.

    It’s real. Well, I think it is, unless I trust no-one. I went and had a look on the original website. I am not about to join the hordes of fools on the internets who think that NASA has been pocketing their budget for decades, and photoshopping all their pictures. As Phobos spirals in towards Roche’s limit, and creaking under the tidal forces, stuff may bend and flow in funny ways. But if you entered this in a Worth1000 contest for pictures of other worlds, it wouldn’t win.

    Ain’t life unfair, sometimes?

  20. Astrofiend says

    No no you’re right – it looks like it’s a texture from a mid-late nineties computer game or something. Trippy, huh?

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