See Mars’ mysterious moon Deimos from just 68 miles away

The initial close-ups of the little moon indicate we were mistaken about where it came from.

The greatest photographs of Deimos, a moon of Mars, have just been captured by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), and they challenge our preconceived notions about the tiny satellite.

There are two moons orbiting Mars. Phobos, the largest of the two, is 14 miles broad and orbits the planet from a distance of just 3,700 miles, while Deimos, the smallest of the two, has a diameter of just 9 miles and orbits the planet from a distance of 14,580 miles.

We anticipate advancing our fundamental knowledge of these two Martian satellites.

Phobos is simpler to examine during missions to Mars since it is larger and closer than Deimos, and NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have both captured high-resolution photographs of the moon during close flybys.

Regarding Deimos, the NASA Viking 2 orbiter did come within 19 miles of the moon, but that was in 1977, so the technology available at the time wasn't as advanced as it is now.

What is novel? After successfully completing its initial mission to investigate Mars' atmosphere up close, the UAE's Hope orbiter was boosted to a higher orbit this year so that it could study the planet in its entirety. The orbiter arrived at Mars in 2021.

Hope was able to snap the first-ever pictures of the side of Deimos that is constantly turned away from Mars' surface because to its revised orbit, which also made it possible to see Deimos from as near as 68 miles away and study it in high detail.

Deimos and Phobos are of importance to astronomers because, by learning more about them and how they came to circle Mars, we can better comprehend how the solar system began.

According to studies made by Hope's three onboard sensors, Deimos and Phobos appear to have compositions more similar to Mars itself than caught asteroids, contrary to the long-held notion that both of Mars' moons are asteroids that were trapped by its gravitational attraction.

This means that the moons might have developed from leftover material after Mars originated, or they could be pieces of Mars that broke out in the past, possibly as a result of an asteroid collision.

Looking ahead: Japan intends to send a probe to examine them and bring back samples from Phobos in the middle of the 2020s, which might soon put an end to the enigma surrounding Mars' moons. Hope's mission has been extended by the UAESA until 2024, allowing the probe extra opportunities to fly by Deimos.

According to Justin Deighan, Deputy Science Lead of the Emirates Mars Mission, "We have a unique opportunity with Hope, to characterize the composition, thermophysics, and precise geomorphology of Deimos with these new observations."

We anticipate advancing our fundamental knowledge of Phobos and Deimos as well as gaining a deeper picture of their histories and development.