Deimos, the smaller of the two moons of Mars, might be a chip off the old block — quite literally.
That’s the conclusion drawn by scientists in the United Arab Emirates, whose Hope orbiter — also called the Emirates Mars Mission and the country’s first interplanetary spacecraft — just snapped the best views of Deimos ever taken by human spacecraft.
“We’re getting the highest resolution ever,” said Hessa Al Matroushi, the science lead on the mission at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai.
Mars has two irregularly shaped moons, and neither is mighty. Phobos, the larger of the two, is about 17 miles in diameter at its widest, and orbits closer to the red planet at an altitude of about 3,700 miles. Deimos is just nine miles across on its longest side, and completes an orbit of Mars every 30 hours at an altitude of 15,000 miles.
The moons’ small size and quirky dimensions led to suggestions that they may be asteroids captured by Mars long ago. Not so, say researchers analyzing data recorded by Hope, which entered orbit around Mars in February 2021.