Strange Martian Moon Phobos – Could Its Dust Have Evidence of Life?

“One can make a pretty cogent argument that life might
have been started initially on Mars and then perhaps 4 billion years
ago came to Earth as a result of these natural impacts.”

- Jay Melosh, Ph.D.,

 

The dark disc is the Martian moon Phobos transiting between Mars and the Sun, as seen by Mars Rover Opportunity on March 10, 2004. Image frame from: VIDEO NASA March 10, 2004, Opportunity.
The dark disc is the Martian moon Phobos transiting between Mars and the Sun, as seen by Mars Rover Opportunity on March 10, 2004. Image frame from: VIDEO NASA March 10, 2004, Opportunity.
Martian moon Phobos with its Stickney Crater is considered a “captured” asteroid with low density that is in an unusual circular and low orbit around Mars. Image by NASA's Viking 1 Orbiter in 1977.
Martian moon Phobos with its Stickney Crater is considered a “captured” asteroid with low density that is in an unusual circular and low orbit around Mars. Image by NASA's Viking 1 Orbiter in 1977.

March 1, 2013  West LaFayette, Indiana - Phobos and Deimos are the two moons that orbit Mars. Phobos is notoriously strange and small - only about 17 miles long and 11 miles wide, shaped a bit like a potato. Phobos is one of the darkest bodies in our solar system with composition similar to carbonaceous chondrites, the space rocks that contain higher percentages (3% to 22%) of water as well as organic compounds. Adding to the mystery is that Phobos has an unusual circular orbit that is very close to Mars, puzzling planetary scientists about how that occurred since most solar system bodies do not have circular orbits. Phobos moves around Mars faster than Mars itself rotates. That's why Phobos rises and sets twice each Martian day. The Phobos orbit is so low that its angular diameter as seen from the surface of Mars varies visibly as its position moves in the sky. Further, Phobos's density is too low to be solid rock, sparking speculation that Phobos is not only porous, but is hollow and perhaps even an artificial construction.

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