NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover captures transit of Martian moon Deimos

NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is currently operating on Mars, has captured the transit of Martian moon Deimos as it passed in front of the Sun on January 20, 2024 (on the 1,037th Martian day of the Perseverance rover mission).

NASA's Perseverance rover captures the transit of Martian moon Deimos on January 20, 2024
NASA’s Perseverance rover captures the transit of Martian moon Deimos on January 20, 2024. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI)

This transit of Deimos was seen in the morning of January 20, 2024, at Jezero crater on Mars, where the Perseverance rover is located.

The left Mastcam-Z camera captured this image on January 20, 2024, at the local mean solar time of 08:42. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast.

All the scientific instruments of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover
Position of Mastcam-Z camera on Perseverance rover. (Image credit: NASA)

Visit the raw image directory of the Perseverance Mars rover to see all the raw images that the rover captured during the transit of Deimos on January 20, 2024. Use filters to go to January 20, 2024.

Deimos is the smaller of Mars’ two moons (the other moon is Phobos). Deimos means panic in Greek.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures the smaller Martian moon, Deimos
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures the smaller Martian moon, Deimos. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Deimos is an irregular-shaped object with dimensions of 15 by 12 by 11 kilometers. It orbits 20,068 kilometers above the Martian surface and takes a little more than 30 hours to orbit Mars.

Deimos takes a maximum of about two minutes to cross the disk of the sun due to its rapid orbital motion, so a transit of Deimos lasts only about two minutes on Mars.

Deimos appears to be composed of carbon-rich materials, similar to those of asteroids found in the outer asteroid belt. It is thought that Deimos is an asteroid. It was captured into Mars orbit from the asteroid belt due to the perturbation of Jupiter. 

Like Phobos, Deimos is also tidally locked with Mars, meaning the same hemisphere is always facing Mars. However, unlike Phobos (whose orbit is slowly getting smaller and eventually will crash on Mars), Deimos is slowly moving away from Mars due to distant orbits and will eventually escape from Mars gravity. 

Japan’s space agency, Jaxa, is planning to launch the MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission in 2026 to explore the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Related article: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover captures transit of Martian moon Phobos 

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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