Washington: Seems like the Martian moon Phobos has a short time left in this solar system as a new study revealed that it is slowly falling apart.
The long, shallow grooves lining the surface of Phobos are likely early signs of the structural failure that will ultimately destroy this moon of Mars.
Orbiting a mere 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) above the surface of Mars, Phobos is closer to its planet than any other moon in the solar system. Mars’ gravity is drawing in Phobos, the larger of its two moons, by about 6.6 feet (2 meters) every hundred years. Scientists expect the moon to be pulled apart in 30 to 50 million years.
Researchers think that Phobos has already started to fail, and the first sign of this failure is the production of these grooves, said Terry Hurford of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Phobos’ grooves were long thought to be fractures caused by the impact that formed Stickney crater. That collision was so powerful, it came close to shattering Phobos. However, scientists eventually determined that the grooves don’t radiate outward from the crater itself but from a focal point nearby.
The same fate may await Neptune’s moon Triton, which is also slowly falling inward and has a similarly fractured surface. The work also has implications for extrasolar planets, according to researchers.
The findings have been presented at the annual Meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society at National Harbor, Maryland. (ANI)