(ORDO NEWS) — Mysterious “footprints” adorn almost the entire surface of Mars’ moon Phobos, and now scientists have explained how they appeared.
The moons of Mars are one of the most mysterious objects in the solar system. They look more like asteroids held by Mars’ gravity than the planet’s natural satellites.
Scientists have studied Phobos and the strange lines on its surface that look like major highways that cross it. These mysterious furrows are thought to be the superficial expression of its hidden canyons.
In addition, astronomers believe that this circumstance indicates that it is falling apart under the influence of the growing gravitational forces of the Red Planet.
Scientists from the universities of Tsinghua, Arizona, Johns Hopkins and Beihang spoke in detail in their new article published in the journal Planetary Science.
Phobos, whose diameter is only 22 kilometers, due to its close orbit to Mars (6000 km), every 100 years approaches the planet in a spiral by about 2 meters.
The researchers report that the lines are, in fact, geological furrows torn apart by Martian gravity. Scientists expect that Phobos will collide with Mars in about 40 million years.
The disadvantage of this hypothesis is that the outer shell must be somewhat stronger so that it does not collapse, and the shape of Phobos is constantly changing.
With near-surface porosity, Phobos is most likely unable to sustain large networks of cracks in a pile of fluffy dust, even at a gravity of 1 in 1000 from Earth.
After the simulation, astrophysicists came to the conclusion that loose dust remains on a stronger sublayer. This material is rather weak, but strong enough to maintain the shape of deep cracks into which the lighter material flows.
The complex morphology of the ridges is formed and developed over millions of years, like cracks formed during the melting of glaciers. However, these cracks form in dry, dusty regolith under microgravity conditions.
Scientists believe that in 20-40 million years, Phobos will de-orbit and fall apart. The destruction of Phobos will create a ring of dust around the Red Planet, making Mars the brightest planet as seen from Earth.
Researchers predict that this extinction has already begun, and shallow canyons are the first signs of the above process.
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