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NASA scientists have discovered that grooves found on Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two moons, are signs that it is slowly breaking apart, according to an article published by NASA on Tuesday.
Scientists previously believed that the grooves radiated from Stickney, the largest crater on Phobos. Another theory posited that the cracks were caused by small impacts of material thrown off of Mars that crashed onto the moon’s surface.
According to findings presented Nov. 10, 2015, at the annual Meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society at National Harbor, Maryland by NASA researcher Terry Hurford and his colleagues, Phobos’ shallow grooves have been caused by tidal forces created by Mars and the moon’s gravitational pull.
Phobos’ interior, according to NASA, consists of rubble surrounded by a layer of powdery regolith about 100 meters thick.
The stress forces will only increase, as Phobos orbits at 6,000 kilometers from Mars and is being pulled closer to the Red Planet by about two meters every hundred years.
Researchers believe this will result in the moon’s destruction in about 30 to 50 million years.
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