Orbiting under 24,000 kilometers from the crimson world’s surface, the Martian moon Deimos isn’t exactly a beauty to behold up close in the celestial sky.
Despite it’s eyesore appearance (a common theme among asteroids), this ugly space rock could be the key towards humanities quest to conquer the red planet in the semi-distant future.
A site near the “arctic circle” on Deimos offers 10 months of continuous sunlight during Martian summer, enabling the use of simple solar power systems.
Astronauts also would have direct line-of-sight to Earth and to rovers on the surface of Mars, simplifying communication, according to the Lockheed Martin fact sheet.
During Martian winter, a similar site in the southern hemisphere is continuously sunlit. A cryogenic propulsion stage for Earth return could be stored in the cold shadows of a large south pole crater on Deimos. (Space.com)
Although similar outposts could be developed upon Deimos’s larger sibling Phobos, the latter resides much deeper within Mar’s gravity well, which may not appeal to space faring nations strapped for cash (due to fuel costs).
Deimos could also serve as a haven for future explorers seeking shelter from the wrath of Mars via global dust storms.
While Phobos will play a critical role in helping humanity settle the surface of Mars, the asteroid moon of Deimos will enable us to establish a stronghold in the planetary system (without having to immediately land upon the red planet).
Note: Promo video from Lockheed Martin (and a trip down memory lane of what was).
Image and Video Credit: Lockheed Martin