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Deimos (moon)

An image of Deimos taken by the Viking 1 orbiter.

Click image for description
Discovered by Asaph Hall
Discovered on August 12 1877
Orbital characteristics
Mean radius 23,460 km
Eccentricity 0.0002
Revolution period 1.262 d
Inclination 1.793°
Is a satellite of Mars
Physical characteristics
Mean diameter 12.6 km (15.0×12×10.4)
Mass 2.244×1015 kg
Mean density 2.2 g/cm3
Surface gravity 0.0039 m/s² (3.9 mm/s)
Surface Gravity
(Earth = 1):
0.00040 (400 g)
Escape Velocity 0.0069 km/s (6.9 m/s)
Rotation period synchronous
Albedo 0.07
Surface temp. ~313 K
Atmospheric pressure no atmosphere

Deimos ("DAY mos") is the smaller and outermost of Mars' two moons, named after Deimos from Greek Mythology.

Phobos and Deimos were both discovered by American astronomer Asaph Hall. The names were suggested by Henry Madan (1838–1901), Science Master of Eton, from Book XV of the Illiad, where Ares summons Fear and Flight.

Deimos was discovered on August 12, 1877 at about 07:48 UTC (given in contemporary sources as "August 11 14:40" Washington mean time using the old astronomical convention of beginning a day at noon, so 12 hours must be added to get the actual local mean time). [1]

Deimos is probably an asteroid that was perturbed by Jupiter into an orbit that allowed it to be captured by Mars, though this theory is still in some dispute. Like most bodies of its size, Deimos is highly nonspherical with dimensions of 15×12×10 km.

Deimos is composed of carbon-rich rock, much like C-type (carbonaceous chondrite ) asteroids, and ice. It is cratered, but the surface is noticeably smoother than that of Phobos, caused by the partial filling of craters with regolith.

As seen from Deimos, Mars would be 1000 times larger and 400 times brighter than the full Moon as seen from Earth, taking up a full 1/11 of the width of a celestial hemisphere.

Deimos transits the Sun, as seen by Mars Rover Opportunity
Deimos transits the Sun, as seen by Mars Rover Opportunity

As seen from Mars, Deimos has an angular diameter of no more than 2.5' and would therefore appear starlike to the naked eye. At its brightest ("full moon") it would be about as bright as Venus is from Earth; at the first or third quarter phase it would be about as bright as Vega. When Deimos passes in front of the Sun its angular diameter is only about 2.5 times the angular diameter for Venus during a transit of Venus from Earth.

Unlike Phobos, which orbits so fast that it actually rises in the west and sets in the east, Deimos rises in the east and sets in the west. However, the orbital period of Deimos of about 30.5 hours exceeds the Martian solar day ("sol") of about 24.5 hours by such a small amount that it takes 2.7 days between rising and setting for an equatorial observer.

Because Deimos' orbit is relatively close to Mars and has only a very small inclination to Mars' equator, it cannot be seen from Martian latitudes greater than 82.7.


Contemporary accounts of the discovery of Phobos and Deimos:

See also

External links

... | Phobos | Deimos | (Solar system)

The Solar System
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See also astronomical objects and the solar system's list of objects, sorted by radius or mass

Last updated: 11-07-2004 05:34:40