Watch The Rare Moment A Martian Moon Passes Gas Giant Jupiter In A Deep Space Eclipse

Deimos moon
ESA's Mars Express captured a rare moment, when Mars' moon Deimos passed in front of Jupiter and its four largest moons. The footage precedes the European Space Agency's upcoming launch of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer next year.

Since launching in 2003, Mars Express has been able to create the most complete map of the chemical composition of Mars' atmosphere, and detailed the history of water across the planet. The data and imagery it has provided has led many to believe the Red Planet may have once been suitable for life. However, it was a recent celestial event the spacecraft captured that has left many in awe.

Along with Mars itself, Mars Express also monitors the planet's two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Due to strong tidal forces, the orbital path of the two moons is in constant fluctuation. While Deimos is moving away from Mars, Phobos is orbiting at a very close distance. It was the orbital path of Deimos, however, that provided incredible footage when it passed in front of Jupiter and four of its moons on February 14, 2022.

Footage of this nature is extremely rare, due to the fact Deimos must be in the exact orbital plane of Jupiter's moons for this type of alignment to occur. An animated sequence of 80 High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) images shows incredible detail of the 15 km-wide moon as it passes in front of the gas giant Jupiter. Jupiter's moons appear as white dots, because of their distance of nearly 750 kilometers from the spacecraft.

The astonishing footage first captures Deimos as it passes in front of Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Ganymede is then obscured, followed by Jupiter, which appears as a large white spot in the center of the frame. The next to disappear behind Deimos is the active volcanic moon lo, and then finally Callisto disappears behind Deimos to finish out the celestial crossing of paths.

deimos moon path
The up and down movement of Deimos is due to the small swaying movements of Mars Express while it moves to place the HRSC camera into position. The solar wings and two large radar antennas on the spacecraft also contribute to the small vibrations, according to ESA.

The upcoming ESA-led JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (Juice) mission is scheduled to launch in 2023. It is expected to arrive in the Jupiter system sometime in 2031. The mission is aimed at providing more information about Jupiter's moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. These moons are believed to harbor oceans, and scientists want to study the conditions for the emergence of life in our Solar System, as well as how planets are formed.