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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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Scientists spot massive ice deposits on Mars

Recent observations by MRO's ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

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Scientists found layers of ice on the surface of Mars. Wikimedia Commons
  • Recently, scientists have found layers of ice on the Martian land.
  • Scientists think this ice might be a useful source of water for future humans.
  • The researchers had researched 8 locations on the surface of Mars.

Scientists have unearthed thick and massive deposits of ice in some regions on Mars.

The images taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars.

The ice sheets extend from just below the surface to a depth of 100 meters or more and appear to contain distinct layers.

It extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface, which could preserve a record of Mars’ past climate, the researchers noted in the journal Science.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS

“We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate,” said Colin M. Dundas, from the US Geological Survey.

“They might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet,” Dundas added.

The researchers investigated eight locations on Mars and found thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle.

However, erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.

The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.

The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA
The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA

The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars’ high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice.

Previous researchers have revealed that the Red Planet harbours subsurface water ice.

Recent observations by MRO’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

NASA’s Phoenix lander had also dug up some ice near the Martian north pole in 2008, however, it is not clear if that is part of the big sheet. IANS

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