Family Resemblance : Martian Moon is from the neighborhood. Deimos, the smaller of the two moons of Mars, might be a chip off the old block - quite literally.

That's the conclusion drawn by scientists in the United Arab Emirates, whose Hope orbiter just snapped the best views of Deimos ever taken by a spacecraft from Earth.

'' We're getting the highest resolution ever,'' said Hassan AI Matroushi in Dubai, the science lead on the mission.

Mars has two irregularly shaped moons, both small.

Phobos, the larger one, is about 17 miles in diameter at its widest [ about 27 kilometers ], and orbits closer to the red planet, at an altitude of about 3,700 miles.

Deimos is just nine miles across on its longest side, and completes an orbit of Mars every 30 hours at an altitude of 15,000 miles.

' The moons ' small size and quirky dimensions led to suggestions that they might be asteroids captured by Mars long ago. No so, say researchers analyzing data recorded by Hope. which entered orbit around Mars in February 2021.

The mission, primarily intended to study the Martian atmosphere, has spent the beginning of 2023 performing fly-bys of Deimos.

Hope's scientific instruments found that the  composition of Deimos is more similar to that of Mars, specifically in the amount of carbon and organics, than to that of D-type asteroids, the class of asteroids previously suggested as its origin.

'' It looks like Mars more than it looks like an asteroid,'' Ms. AI Matroushi said.

How the moon would have formed from Mars is not clear. [ Jonathan O'Callaghan ].


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