• Exploration

Mars and its Moon Deimos by the Hope Probe

Published on 06 April 2023

The United Arab Emirates' Hope probe has been orbiting the red planet since February 2021. On March 10 2023 it passed about a hundred kilometres from the small moon Deimos, obtaining a snapshot of it with Mars in the background.

Mars and its Moon Deimos by the Hope Probe

As part of their desire to develop an ambitious space programme, the United Arab Emirates set up their first Mars mission called Hope Mars Mission. The probe was built in cooperation with the University of Colorado in the United States  then sent to the fourth planet on July 19 2020 atop a Japanese H-IIA launch vehicle from Tanegashima. On February 9 2021 Hope (or Amal) successfully entered orbit around Mars.

Deimos, Mars’ Smaller Moon

The fourth planet has two moons, much smaller than Earth’s. The larger of the two, Phobos, is already very modest in size with a maximum width of only 26.8 km . The second, which is also further away, with a maximum width of 15 km is called Deimos. We do not use diameter for these two small bodies because of their irregular shapes.
Deimos orbits 23,460 km from Mars, while Hope is between 22,000 and 44,000 km from the planet. On March 10 the United Arab Emirates probe flew over the moon at a distance of 104 km, obtaining several shots, including a very beautiful one with Mars in the background. The image was released on the occasion of the general assembly of the European Geosciences Union. 

The main region visible on the planet happens to be Arabia Terra. The Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910) named it thus by analogy with Arabia on Earth. We now know that this area of the northern hemisphere is made up of very old (3.5 billion years) heavily cratered terrain.

On the picture taken by Hope, we have added some craters from the Arabia Terra region. At 412 km in diameter, Cassini pays homage to the French astronomer (born in Italy) Giovanni Cassini (1625-1712). Pasteur, 113 km wide, obviously owes its name to the French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) who developed the vaccine against rabies. The 168 km Henry crater refers to two French opticians and astronomers, Paul-Pierre Henry (1848-1905) and Paul Henry (1849-1903).
© Cité de l’ espace / Hope Mars Mission

The main objective of Hope is the study of the climate of the red planet and its atmosphere. Several scientific publications have been produced using the data collected by the probe’s instruments. Hope Mars Mission is part of the desire of the United Arab Emirates to develop a space programme with a strong technical and scientific component. In addition to this exploration of the red planet, the federation conducts cooperative crewed flights. At the moment its astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is participating in Expedition 69 of the International Space Station (ISS) for about six months. He got there early on with SpaceX’s Crew-6 flight, which also carried two Americans and a Russian. Recently, Rashid should have become the first Emirati lunar rover, but the Japanese Hakuto-R M1 lander responsible for bringing it to the moon surface failed in its April 25 attempt.

Deimos, Mars’ Moon by the Hope Probe.
© Hope Mars Mission

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