New excessive decision photographs of Deimos from Mission Hope

We’ve seen our share of photos of Mars from orbit and from the surface, but what about its moons? The United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbital mission to Mars sent home beautiful new high-resolution images of the red planet’s moon Deimos as it flew less than 100 km from the moon last month. This is the next spacecraft to come to Deimos in almost 50 years.

In the photos, the science team say their images of Deimos help provide evidence the moon was not a captured asteroid but came from Mars itself during an impact in the ancient past, much like Earth’s moon.

Our main image shows Deimos orbiting 20,000 km above Mars, a stunning sight. It almost looks like Deimos is about to fall on Mars! (It is not).

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The images were acquired on March 10, 2023 by the spacecraft’s EXI Digital Exploration Camera.

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft captured this image of Martian moon Deimos from about 100 km away. Photo credit: United Arab Emirates Space Agency.

The Hope mission team tweeted that the camera captured 27 images of Deimos in 25 minutes thanks to a close flyby of Deimos.

“Many bugs caused by the camera system have been fixed, and contrast and brightness have been adjusted to improve the overall visibility of the Deimos interface.”

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Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos, have long been thought to be captured asteroids. These two potato-shaped moons are among the smallest in the Solar System: Deimos is 12.6 km (7.8 miles) across and Phobos is 22.2 km (13.8 miles) across. Both are lumpy, heavily cratered and covered with dust and loose rocks. They are thought to be captured asteroids because they are among the dimmer objects in the solar system and appear to be composed of carbon-rich rock mixed with ice.

Deimos takes 30 hours for each orbit around Mars, while Phobos whips around Mars three times a day with an orbit just 6,000 km (3,700 miles) above the Martian surface.

Another instrument on the Hope spacecraft, EMIRS, a Fourier transform thermal infrared spectrometer, also collected infrared spectral data from almost the entire surface of Deimos.

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The team said on Twitter: “These results support the interpretation that Deimos may consist of merged pieces of Mars that may have been ejected in a large impact, rather than a captured carbonaceous D-type asteroid.

“The observed surface temperatures suggest the possibility of freezing of volatile materials at the poles of ‘Deimos’ and the almost inhomogeneity of the surface, in addition to the possibility that it contains fine and coarse sand grains of centimeters.”

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“The infrared spectral data also shows similarity to data from the largest Martian moon, Phobos, and suggests a basaltic origin for the moon’s formation. These results support the hypothesis that Deimos may consist of connected pieces of Mars that were likely the result of a large collision.”

The team said their data suggests that a Deimos is not a rocky asteroid, but that it came from Mars itself after an impact and was then dragged into its orbit. This will likely be discussed, with future data and additional studies required.

The science team also noted that Phobos will also be studied by their instruments on an upcoming flyby.

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