The largest moon of Mars known as Phobos is disintegrating before our very eyes due to the gravitational pull of the Red Planet.
Faultlines that appear in the form of long grooves that go on forever are to be found on the surface of the moon of Mars known as Phobos. It is a sign that the moon will stop existing sometime in the future.
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The structure of the satellite of the red planet is at fault. Phobos lies at a distance of 3700 miles from the surface of Mars. This is the nearest that any satellite has ever gotten to the surface of its mother planet.
The downside to this is that the gravitational force of Mars is pulling in its moon at the rate of 6.6 feet per century. What this means is that within 30 to 50 million years, Phobos will get torn to shreds of debris that will float in the vast depths of space.
One of NASA’s staff members has commented on the situation. The grooves on the surface of the moon are a surefire sign that it is a failure as a satellite. The findings by Hurford and his colleagues were presented on November 10th at the annual Meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society at National Harbor, Maryland.
“We 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.
The grooves on Phobos were thought to have been formed during the impact that left a huge crater on it. That collision which left behind a large crater almost destroyed Phobos. But the latest evidence points to the grooves arising from another focal point and not from the crater which is named Stickney Crater.
In fact, the grooves may have been formed from material that fell on the moon from the surface of Mars. But there may actually be more here than meets the eye. The grooves are signs that tidal forces are ripping Phobos apart at the seams.
Even on our own planet earth, the attraction between the moon and the tides causes both the planet and its satellite to transform into an ovoid shape. Phobos used to be a solid but now it is a scarred moon of Mars.
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How long it will remain its moon is another question altogether. The internal condition of Phobos could be like a lot of rubble that is barely kept together by the loose crust of the moon. Scientists have said that the same could happen to Neptune’s moon Triton. It too is in a fragile state and liable to fall to pieces. The investigation into these cases of moons gone berserk is an ongoing matter.