Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Mars Express' shifting orbit

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This video runs from the middle of Mars Express' first year at Mars, 2004, all the way through to 2011...sped up 10,000,000 times! You can see the red path of the Mars Express orbit as it swings around Mars throughout the Martian year (Earth dates are in the top right corner). Every few months this intersects with the orbit of Phobos (the inner green ring, the outer one is Deimos), giving us an opportunity for a Phobos flyby. The lines don't always display in the correct order on this video, so sometimes it looks like we also cross the orbit of Deimos; this is just an optical illusion on the video (in reality, it orbits too far out from Mars for a close encounter with Mars Express).