The UAE’s “Hope” space probe, which entered the orbit of Mars two years ago, was able to observe the small moon of the red planet “Deimos” with great accuracy, shedding light on the origin of this strange moon.
The “Hope” probe, which constitutes the first interplanetary mission for an Arab country, was able to fly less than 110 kilometers from “Deimos”, which is an irregular rocky body whose size does not exceed 12 kilometers and is similar in shape to a bean, while it represents one of the two moons of Mars along with the largest moon. Phobos size.
First mission since 1977
This is the first time since the Viking mission in 1977 that a spacecraft has succeeded in flying closely over the moon, which has not been observed much, as indicated by officials of the Emirates Mars Exploration Mission, during a meeting of the European Geophysics Union in Vienna.
During its flight over “Deimos” on a mission launched last January, the “Hope” space probe succeeded in observing the moon with great accuracy, thanks to the EXI camera, which provides high-resolution color images in multiple wavelengths.
These images revealed the “dark side” of the small moon, which orbits at a distance of 23,000 km from Mars, which has not been studied after its formation.
“We are not sure of the origin of Phobos and Deimos,” Hessa Al Matroushi, the scientific official of the “Emirates Mission to Explore Mars,” said in a statement, adding that one of the old theories indicates that the two moons were asteroids coming from the asteroid belt that was observed in the orbit of the Red Planet.
– Accurate observations provided by the “Hope” probe
However, the accurate observations provided by the “Hope” probe suggest that the two moons are of planetary origin. Christopher Edwards, the scientist responsible for one of the probe’s tools, stated that “Deimos” has, like “Phobos”, “infrared-related properties close to the basaltic rocks of Mars more than to the basalt rocks of the meteorite that fell near Tagish Lake” in Canada.
The UAE Prime Minister and rulers of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, published, through his Twitter account, a picture of the moon “Deimos”, and wrote: “The probe showed that the moon was part of Mars and separated from it millions of years ago.”
The “Hope” space probe will continue to fly over “Deimos” throughout 2023 to collect more data, as indicated by the UAE Space Agency, which decided to extend the Mars mission for an additional year.
In February 2021, the Emirati probe entered the orbit of Mars, becoming the first Arab country to achieve this, and the Gulf state intends to send an unmanned robot to the moon by 2024.