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Phobos to collide with Mars, say reserchers

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New Delhi: An  Indian-origin researcher Tushar Mittal in collaboration with Benjamin Black from the University of California has revealed that Phobos the largest moon of Mars is expected to collide with the planet in nearly 10-20 million years and form a ring-like structure.

The researchers compared the movement of Phobos with Earth’s moon and discovered the shift of the satellites towards Mars.

“While our moon is moving away from the Earth at a few centimetres per year, Phobos is moving toward Mars at the same speed, so it is almost inevitable that it will either crash into Mars or break apart,” said Black in an interview with a newspaper.

The only other moon moving towards its planet is of Neptune.

Although, the research does not guaranty a time frame, but it specifies that the collision is inevitable. The ring will persist between one million to 100 million years. It also mentioned that the satellite won’t be able to resist the tidal forces that will pull it apart from the planet when it gets closer to Mars.

The largest chunks of the moon after the collision is estimated to ultimately spiral into the planet and crash at a grazing angle to make an egg-shaped crater. The majority of the remains would loop the planet for millions of years until these fragments also fall onto the planet. It would then be called a moon showers, similar to meteor showers, the research pointed out.

To estimate the force of Phobos crashing into Mars, Benjamin and Mittal studied data from similarly splintered rocks on Earth and also from meteorites that banged onto Earth’s surface. Those studies provided with information of Phobos having similar density and composition.

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STUDY: Lakes on Mars dried up 3.5bn years ago

A study reveals that lakes on Mars dried up 3.5bn years ago.

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An image of Mars.
Mars. Pixabay

The discovery of cracks on the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover in early 2017 are evidence of lakes that likely dried up 3.5 billion years ago, confirmed a study, revealing details about the red planet’s ancient climate.

In early 2017 scientists announced the discovery of possible desiccation cracks in Gale Crater, which was filled by lakes 3.5 billion years ago.

“We are now confident that these are mudcracks,” said lead author Nathaniel Stein, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, US.

Since desiccation mudcracks form only where wet sediment is exposed to air, their position closer to the centre of the lake bed rather than the edge also suggests that lake levels rose and fell dramatically over time.

“The mudcracks show that the lakes in Gale Crater had gone through the same type of cycles that we see on Earth,” Stein added.

Representational image for planet Mars.
Representational image. Pixabay

Although scientists have known almost since the moment Curiosity landed in 2012 that Gale Crater once contained lakes, “the mudcracks are exciting because they add context to our understanding of this ancient lacustrine system”, Stein explained, in the paper published in the journal Geology.

“We are capturing a moment in time. This research is just a chapter in a story that Curiosity has been building since the beginning of its mission,” he said.

Also Read: SpaceX to build Mars rockets in Los Angeles

For the study, the team focused on a coffee table-sized slab of rock nicknamed “Old Soaker”.

Old Soaker is crisscrossed with polygons identical in appearance to desiccation features on Earth.

They found that the polygons — confined to a single layer of rock and with sediment filling the cracks between them — formed from exposure to air, rather than other mechanisms such as thermal or hydraulic fracturing, the researchers said.  IANS

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