Phobos is being torn apart by Mars, and the moon will be no more sooner rather than later.
Mars is tearing apart its own moon, scientists have found recently.
As we reported recently, the irregularly shaped moon of Phobos is showing signs of structural failure that will lead to the moon’s destruction within 30 to 50 million years, thanks to tidal forces from its parent planet, according to a Christian Science Monitor report. But just what is causing this structural failure?
Just like the Earth, the moon of Phobos is locked tidally with Mars, but Phobos has already started to show signs of failure as grooves and cracks have shown up on its surface that scientists believe are the early signs of collapse.
Dr. Terry Hurford, who is a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement that such grooves herald an eventual collapse, and indicate that this moon is already in the last throes of its life.
Phobos is one of the two moons of Mars. It is very close to the planet, just 3,700 miles from its surface — the closest a moon is to its parent planet in the solar system. Our own moon is 238,855 miles from the Earth, and slowly getting farther away. Phobos, however, is only getting closer, and that means a breakup is inevitable.
Scientists had known about these cracks, but before they simply believed them to be stretch marks from a different force — the impact that caused the Stickney crater, which is six miles in diameter. However, a closer look at the moon indicated that they don’t radiate outward from the crater, but another point nearby.
The moon also has a very quick orbit, rotating around Mars three times per Martian day.