September 26, 2023
This observation from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows Becquerel Crater, one of several impact craters in Arabia Terra. Original from NASA. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

UAE’s Amal Spacecraft Discovers Martian Origins of Mars’ Moon “Deimos”

In a monumental scientific achievement, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Amal spacecraft has astounded the world with its latest discovery about Mars’ diminutive moon, Deimos. The spacecraft, which flew within a mere 100 kilometers of Deimos on March 10, has unveiled the most detailed and captivating photographs ever captured of the moon. These groundbreaking images have revolutionized our understanding of Deimos, challenging previous theories and shedding light on its enigmatic origins.

The Amal spacecraft, launched on July 19, 2020, embarked on a daring mission to explore the mysteries of the Red Planet. On its trajectory, it encountered Deimos at an unprecedented proximity, providing an exceptional opportunity for close observation. The resulting photographs, released on Monday, have sent shockwaves through the scientific community.

Unlike any previous images, the new photographs obtained by Amal reveal astonishing details about Deimos and its relationship to Mars. One of the most astonishing revelations is the moon’s apparent Martian origin, according to lead scientist Hessa al-Matroushi and other researchers from the UAE’s space agency. This revelation marks a significant departure from the prevailing theory that Deimos was an asteroid captured in Mars’ orbit during ancient times.

Deimos, with its distinct features captured in the images, appears to be deeply intertwined with Mars itself. These findings have opened up exciting new avenues for understanding the Red Planet’s history and the processes that shaped its moons. The discovery has triggered a surge of curiosity among scientists, who are eager to delve deeper into the mysteries of Mars and its intriguing satellite system.

The Amal spacecraft also took advantage of the mission to explore the far side of Deimos, which had remained largely uncharted territory until now. The moon’s dimensions, measuring only 15 kilometers by 12 kilometers by 12 kilometers, provided a unique opportunity for close observation. Comparatively, Mars’ other moon, Phobos, appeared almost double in size and orbited at an even closer distance of just 6,000 kilometers from the planet’s surface, making it the closest moon to any planet in our solar system.

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Deimos’ elliptical orbit around Mars spans an impressive 23,000 kilometers, reaching close to the inner part of the spacecraft’s orbit. This close proximity fueled scientists’ enthusiasm to study Deimos extensively, leading to the extraordinary findings brought to light by the Amal mission.

While previous missions, such as NASA’s Viking 2 in 1977, managed to approach Deimos within 30 kilometers, the Amal spacecraft’s recent encounter has undoubtedly provided the most detailed and comprehensive images ever captured of this enigmatic moon. The UAE’s groundbreaking achievement is poised to reshape our understanding of Deimos and stimulate further exploration of Mars and its celestial companions.

Amal’s ongoing mission promises to deliver more astounding insights into the mysteries of Deimos as it continues to sweep past the moon throughout the year, albeit at greater distances than the historic encounter on March 10. The scientific community eagerly anticipates the wealth of knowledge and discoveries that lie ahead.

The UAE’s Amal spacecraft has elevated our understanding of Mars’ little moon, Deimos, to unprecedented heights. This historic mission and its remarkable discoveries will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the annals of space exploration, inspiring future generations to embark on bold quests to unravel the secrets of our cosmic neighbors.