UAE’ Amal spacecraft has captured the most detailed photos to date of Deimos, Mars’ smaller moon. Last month, the spacecraft flew within 62 miles of Deimos, providing close-up images of the moon’s little-explored far side. Amal — Arabic for Hope — got a two-for-one when Mars photobombed some of the images. The flyby was the closest any spacecraft has been to Deimos in almost 50 years.
The Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced the “new global milestone” on Twitter saying “The UAE Mars Exploration Project, the Hope Probe, flew within 100 km of the Martian moon Deimos, capturing the clearest image of the moon ever taken by humans.”
Deimos’ orbit around Mars extends 14,000 miles out, close to the inner part of the spacecraft’s orbit, making the observation of Deimos a compelling idea, according to Hessa al-Matroushi, the mission’s lead scientist.
The team’s analysis of the images suggests that Deimos is not an asteroid captured by Mars’ orbit in the past, as previously believed. Instead, the moon appears to be of Martian origin, potentially from the larger Martian moon, Phobos, or even from Mars itself.
Read more: UAE’s Rashid Rover takes one step closer to the Moon
The new images provide scientists with an improved understanding of Deimos, which is much smaller and less understood than its counterpart, Phobos.
NASA’s Viking 2 previously came within 19 miles of Deimos in 1977, but since then, other spacecraft have only photographed the moon from a distance.
Amal will continue to observe Deimos this year, albeit not as close as in the March 10 encounter. The findings were presented at the European Geosciences Union’s general assembly in Vienna.
A step forward for Arab region
Egypt congratulated the UAE after the ‘Hope Probe’ successfully reached Mars.
“I proudly followed the arrival of the Amal Probe to Mars which marked an unprecedented step in scientific research, promising a scientific renaissance in the Arab region,” said the Egyptian President in a statement.
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