Mars and her Moons

David K. Israel

My post yesterday about Hawking's vision of a colonized Mars got me searching the internet for more information on the red planet. We all know Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, both sons of Ares (or Mars in Roman) and Aphrodite (or Venus). And we can all connect the dots and figure out that Phobos is where our many phobias come from. But what about Deimos? Well, it turns out that's Greek for "panic."

Which makes sense, right? Phobias lead to panic attacks.

The two moons were discovered in 1877 by the American astronomer, Asaph Hall, would also go on to determine Mars' mass. Years later, it was determined that, in all probability, the moons are captured asteroids -- pulled off the asteroid belt by Mars' gravitational field. They probably aren't moons that were ripped out of the planet, the way our moon is thought to have formed.

Coincidentally, most astronomers now believe that the object that originally smashed into earth, pushing our moon out into orbit, was about the size of, yup, you guessed it: Mars.