Sunday, May 1, 2022

Mars moon may be on its way to destruction

A new study indicates that the ridges on the surface of Phobos, the moon of Mars, indicate that the satellite is heading towards its destruction (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Mars ' largest moon Phobos is on its way to destruction. According to NASA scientists, this could happen in a period of 30 to 50 million years. The key to reaching that conclusion was the grooves that stretch across the surface of the satellite.

Scientists have long been trying to decipher the origin of these grooves. A new study, presented Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, proposes that the ridges are like "striations" that appear as the moon is deformed by gravitational forces. between Mars and Phobos.

2 meters every 100 years

Phobos orbits at a distance of 6 thousand km from Mars: it is the closest moon to its planet in the entire Solar System. Mars' gravity is pulling Phobos towards it by 2 meters every 100 years.

The researchers, led by Terry Hurford of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, consider Phobos' interior to be a cluster of rocks held together by a mantle about 100 meters wide.

This interior can easily distort and the outer layer of the moon behaves elastic. The hypothesis is that these forces can cause the surface to collapse. "We think Phobos has already started to destroy itself, and the first sign of that is the production of these grooves," Hurford said. According to NASA, Triton, the moon of Neptune, may have a similar fate.

Mars still has two moons: in addition to Phobos, there are also Deimos.

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