Elon Musk congratulates UAE on Hope probe's striking observations of Mars's moon Deimos

Images captured by the spacecraft went viral on the internet

SpaceX chief Elon Musk speaks at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Billionaire Elon Musk has congratulated the UAE on the stunning observations of Mars's moon Deimos made by its Hope probe.

The National yesterday published the unprecedented images of the mysterious moon captured by the Emirati-built spacecraft.

Emirati social media influencer Hassan Sajwani tweeted The National's story and Mr Musk replied: “Congrats, UAE!!”

More than 200 Emirati engineers, scientists and researchers were involved in developing the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.

It was built in partnership with three US universities, including University of Colorado Boulder, University of California, Berkeley and Arizona State University.

The spacecraft was launched on a Japanese rocket in July, 2020, and arrived in the Red Planet's orbit on February, 2021.

Since then, it has been sending back crucial data about the planet's upper atmospheric conditions and space weather.

It tracked a massive dust storm on Mars for more than two weeks, helping to show how quickly they can spread across the planet.

It also captured rare images of the aurora in Mars’s night-side atmosphere.

The findings help scientists understand the interactions between solar radiation, Mars’s magnetic fields and the atmosphere.

Latest findings on Mars's moon Deimos helped to indicate that the celestial body may not actually be a captured asteroid as previously thought.

The spacecraft flew as close as 100km to the moon’s surface, capturing data of its composition that challenges a long-standing theory that Mars’s moons are captured asteroids — space rocks trapped in a planet’s orbit.

Findings point to a planetary origin, meaning that the rock may have come from Mars itself.

“We are unsure of the origins of both Phobos [the larger moon of Mars] and Deimos,” said Hessa Al Matroushi, the mission's science chief.

“How exactly they came to be in their current orbits is also an active area of study, and so any new information we can gain on the two moons, especially the more rarely observed Deimos, has the potential to unlock new understanding of Mars’s satellites.

“Our close observations of Deimos so far point to a planetary origin rather than reflecting the composition of a type D asteroid as has been postulated.”

Updated: April 25, 2023, 7:57 AM