Phobos study

Phobos is the epitome of fear in Greek mythology, but the name is also reserved for one of the moons of Mars. It should be noted that it is possible that it was an asteroid that was intercepted by the gravitational force of the red planet, but there is no certainty about it. Phobos is irregularly shaped and has many traces of meteorite strikes on its surface.

At the moment, feelings are stirred by the fact that a close encounter with the mysterious moon took place recently Mars. The European Space Agency is doing an unmanned mission called Mars ExpressAnd an orbital vehicle named Mars Express Orbiter (MEO) It has been orbiting the Red Planet for about two decades.

MEO approached from a distance 83 km from Phobos On September 22, 2022, he peered inside the mysterious moon. As mentioned by the site Space.comThis was possible thanks to a tool called Marsis (Mars advanced radar for subsurface and ionosphere sounding), as well as thanks to a recent software update that allowed searching from a distance of less than 250 km.

This scientific radar instrument is used to study structures below the surface, which is why the rover can go deep into the natural satellite of Mars. Scientist Andrea Sechetti with INAF (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics) Commenting on the latest activities carried out by MEO.

We’re still at an early stage in our analysis, but we’ve seen possible signs of previously unknown structures lying beneath this moon’s surface.

Uses the MARSIS Scientific Tool radio waves. Some bounce off the surface, others penetrate deep into Phobos and then return to orbit. This allows you to analyze the reflected waves, map structures inside the Moon, and better understand their thickness and composition.

in charge Statement on the ESA website Andrea Cicchetti explains that thanks to the recent ability to do close-up research, scientists have gained the ability to see more details, including identifying structures they might not have been able to see before. In the future, researchers want to get closer to Phobos and instead of 80 km, they are dreaming about 40 km.

Phobos study
Image source: © esa.int | ESA

Phobos study

The obtained radar (GPR profile) has a specific trajectory for the studied area, as well as a special place marked with the letter “e”, which aroused the interest of scientists with its subsurface geological features.

Finally, it is necessary to add that Plans include a mission called Martian Moons eXploration (MMX), whose goal will be to land on Phobos, collect samples for testing and return them to Earth.. beginning It is scheduled for 2024, and if everything goes as planned, it will be the first time in history that humanity has transported samples of Phobos to Earth. In short, our exploration of the mysterious moon is just beginning.

Marcin Hołowacz, journalist at Wirtualna Polska

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