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Space Station Info :: Nine Planet Solar System :: History of Mars :: Mars Moons

Mars Moons

Mythology Mars

The Phobos and Deimos are the two moons of Mars and their orbits are seen from above Mars' North Pole. Both Phobos and Deimos are tidally locked with Mars, always pointing the same face towards it. Since Phobos orbits around Mars faster than the planet itself rotates, tidal forces are slowly but steadily decreasing its orbital radius. At some point in the future Phobos will be broken up by gravitational forces. Deimos, on the other hand, is distant enough that its orbit is being gradually boosted instead.

Both satellites were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall, and are named after the characters Phobos (panic/fear) and Deimos (terror/dread) who, in Greek mythology, accompanied their father the Greek god Ares into battle. Ares was known to the Romans as Mars, the god of war.

Mars' Natural Satellites:

Name Diameter (km) Mass (kg) Mean orbital radius (km) Orbital period (h)
Phobos 22.2 (27 × 21.6 × 18.8) 1.08×1016 9378 7.66
Deimos 12.6 (10 × 12 × 16) 2×1015 23,40030.35

As seen from Mars, Phobos has an angular diameter of between 8' (rising) and 12' (overhead), while Deimos has an angular diameter of about 2'. The Sun's angular diameter, by contrast, is about 21'.

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Geology of Mars
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