March 28, 2023


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Are we really witnessing the first effects of the fall of Phobos, Mars' moon?

Are we really witnessing the first effects of the fall of Phobos, Mars’ moon?

Astronomers have already estimated that Phobos is steadily approaching the red planet. In the next hundred million years, the gravitational interaction between them It will tear the natural satellite into thousands of fragments, which will result in a dust ring orbiting the planet. Over the next million years, these pieces will systematically fall to the surface of our cosmic neighbor. Currently, Phobos is approaching Mars by about 1.8 cm each year.

Scientists investigated Gravitational interactions between Phobos and Mars He concluded that these forces do indeed have a remarkable effect. It may be some of the mysterious parallel cracks that can be seen on the surface of the moon due to its orbital decay. Through this process, the “cosmic tidal forces” are pushing more and more against this celestial body.

In their paper, the researchers wrote: “Our analysis confirms the existence of multiple heterogeneous strata Phobos structure With the possibility of tidal rupture as a precursor to the eventual extinction of a satellite leaving its orbit.”

tidal forces It is the result of the mutual gravitational interaction of celestial bodies – these forces stretch their structure along the axis that runs between them. Then stress cracking occurs. A similar phenomenon occurs on Saturn’s moon, Enceladuswhose ice shell contains deep parallel Antarctic fissures.

Astronomers conducted it in detail 3D mathematical modeling Against the influence of tidal forces (tension and pressure). After running hundreds of simulations, they concluded that most of them showed this Tidal forces cause the rock layers to split and fracture into parallel grooves, causing the loose upper regolith to flow down the trenches. The result of these processes is the “tiger-shaped” surface of the Moon. Interestingly, some simulations have shown that gullies around the equator do not match expectations.

Phobos modeling […] We found that tidal stress can create parallel faults at regular intervals […] Our analysis indicates that some grooves may occur on the surface of Phobos Early signs of the eventual demise of a satellite leaving orbit“- write scientists in an article published in Planetary Science Journal. At the same time, scientists emphasize that the above explanation is not the only possibility for the formation of cracks on the surface of Phobos. Another theory is that rolling rocks mark the Moon, which is likely because the surface of this celestial body is covered with a relatively loose outer layer of rock with more solid layers underneath.

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