Today, let’s talk about Mars Moon (almost about mars). And as you know there are several Rovers present there. The Chinese Rover ‘Zhurong’, is carrying on its research there
Rovers Collect Sample From Mars
This rover has moved about half a kilometer away from its landing site and a few days before it dug for its first sample. The first sampling was not successful, but now it has taken a sample from another rock which has reserved it in a test tube.
This is fascinating place for searching for the presence of ancient life (it may be present there even today).
But there is another place, about 6000 km above the surface of Mars. It is thought that it may be a better place than Mar’s surface in search for ancient life.
Two Moons Of Mars
Mars has two moons, namely Phobos and Deimos. In Greek mythology, Mars was the ‘God of War’. Its name was Ares and then it became Mars in Roman mythology. It had twins – 2 children (in mythology) one named “Phobos” meaning fear and the other was named “Deimos” meaning terror.
When astronomers discovered these two moons and this was an American astronomer Asaph Hall, who discovered these two moons in 1877, and these names were given according to mythology. Now these moons Phobos and Deimos add potato shaped – not regular round moons as our moon
And a big reason for that is they are small.
For example, Phobos it’s only 20 km in length and Deimos is smaller than that.
Phobos is very near to the surface of Mars, it is only 6000 km away and orbits it around at a very fast pace. And if you are on the surface of Mars and you will see Phobos in a day (the martian day which is almost equal to the day of earth) rising and setting twice.
Closeup photos of Phobos have been taken by a different orbiters. You can see Phobos which is a small moon but still is a fascinating place.
You can see these different grooves. The astronomers know this is not a single groove set but a two groove set and what is its exact origin we do not know.
And the defining feature of Phobos is a big creator named ‘Stickney’.
A big, but that is how were moons of mars, Phobos and Deimos, formed. But if you see the moons their shape is, as I said, irregular like a potato, their color is dark and there are many craters present on them.
In a Sense, there are like asteroids and Asteroid belt is between Mars and Jupiter.
Astronomers up till the recent past had a strong belief that these two moons Phobos and Deimos were objects of asteroid belt. The gravity of Jupiter tugged them, disturbing their orbit and they were captured by the gravity of mars while passing near it, becoming its moons. This is a reasonable idea. This types of captured moans can be seen around Saturn and some moons of Jupiter have also been captured this way.
Orbit of These Moons
But there is one hitch. The orbit of Phobos and Deimos are very much circular. Mars is not a big planet, neither has it a thick atmosphere so it was a puzzle for astronomers that how orbits of these asteroids captured by it (if the theory is correct) are so circular.
Recently another theory has been suggested by astronomers which is called a “impact theory” who is basic idea is that the solar system was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, there was a big impact on Mars. By the way, this is also the idea of the formation of our moon.
How Mars Moons Formed
Regarding Mars, the idea is this type of big object collided with mars. In the beginning, when the solar system was formed these big objects common in the solar system and they will colliding with one another. In a sense than the planets started forming they formed this way when these small pieces floating nearby mixed with each other. This can also be called impact.
It is assumed that three moon were formed in the impact on Mars.
Phobos and Deimos (about which we are talking now) and a third one which was bigger than both of these. It is the idea is the third moon eventually crashed again on Mars and maybe this explain the fact that when we see Mars it’s one hemisphere is relatively flat
And the other one has many features on it such as craters and even mountains. And it is believed that the third moon crash on this flat area.
Rather it is believed that Phobos, about which we have talked much (because it is near Mars surface) may crash on Mars in the next 50 million years and if it does not crash, and it may disrupt like rubber and the remnants in sometime will form a ring around Mars.
Now which theory of the formation of the moon’s of Mars is Correct? We do not know, but after a few years we will get an opportunity to test it.
New Mission On Mars Moon
A new Mission of Japanese space agency is named ‘Martian Moon Exploration or MMX.’
Its purpose is to land on Phobos, collect samples from there and bring them back to earth. That analyses of these samples call tell us whether Phobos is made up only of asteroid material are made up of the material of mars on its impactor.
After all, there were several theories of the formation of a moon before the Apollo missions. There were many ideas regarding the formation of moon but when the Apollo mission brought back moon rocks and they were analysed the impact theory was validated.
Likewise, it is believed that this Japanese mission will be able to solve the mystery as to how what these moons formed in the Japanese space agency is very experienced in those missions.
Very recently Japanese mission “HAYABUSA 2” reached an asteroid named “Ryugu” Orbited it, sent down a lender, picked up materials from there, and brought it back to earth.
New Mission Plan on Mars
This Phobos has no hemisphere, and it is asteroid sized and a Japanese space agency is very much experience to complete these sort of missions and they will bring back those samples by 2029.
This is significant because (the intention is) the samples being collected by the NASA rover ‘Perseverance’ on Mars will be collected by a combined follow-up the mission of NASA and the European space agency from Jezero Crater
And brought back to earth by 2031. So it is believed that the samples of Phobos (Martian Moon) will reach us before that. The story of origins is already very fascinating but there is one another thing which makes it more interesting.
Mars Life Discover
Astronomers think that maybe Phobos the Martian moon is a better place than mars for finding ancient Life On Mars.
What is the reason?
The reason is we know that different type of impacts keep taking place constantly on the planet or their moons. So mars is not much unique in this sense. And when there is an impact and something collides with it, the rocks of the Martian surface are ejected into space.
How do we know this?
We know this because we have found rocks of Mars on Earth. 3% of all meteorites discovered on Earth are of Mars origin. This is fascinating that how do we know this.
The reason is when material ejects from mars because of the impact due to the intense heat, the rocks melt a little, and solidify immediately after ejection and during this period (melting and solidifying) it captures the atmosphere of mars in bubbles.
So scientist can see this meteorites and when they analyze bubbles it is known that this meteorites was from Mars.
A very famous meteorite ALH84001 made headlines in the 1990 century
Because of the believe that remains of Martian life what present in that martian meteorite.
But over time, astronomers, noting that there is the chemistry is ALH84001 and no biology, but that is an open puzzle.
But we know that the material of Mars on its surface ejects. We are talking about some meteorites of Mars reaching the Earth, so a lot of Martian material must have accumulated on its moon Phobos which is only 6000 km above its surface.
Astronomers estimate that almost 1,000,000 tons of materials on Phobos is that of Mars which over a period of time (4 billion years) ejected and reached there. So if we analyse that if there was life (now extinct) on Mars it is believed that we will find it on the surface of Phobos.
Why No Life on Mars
Today, there will be no life there, because it must have been sterilized because there is no atmosphere no water, nothing on Phobos but maybe you can preserve the sign of ancient life.
The Japanese space agency has name this type of life which may be present on Phobos “SHIGAI” which is one acronym of ‘Sterilised in Harshly Irradiated Genes and Ancient Imprints’. This is a long name what is the meaning of SHIGAI is Japanese is ‘dead remains’.
There is fantastic thing in it that some astronomers think it is better to find sign of ancient life on Phobos instead of on Mars or there are better chances there.
The reason is that Mars is big. When we send missions there, they are sent to a limited area and there are many local variations. Curiosity rover has detected lovely methane gas periodically according to seasons.
This methane gas has not been detected in other places. Why? This is another mystery.
But on Phobos, you are getting a random sample of all of Mars and not only of one period but the material which has been flying from Mars during the last 4 billion to 4.5 billions years and deposited on it. You will get a sample of Mars hour of very long duration of time and of a large space.
There is another interesting problem. Japanese mission is going to bring the Phobos material to earth. For that, it requires some permission, because the question of planetary protection arises. If we bring some piece of mars to earth we have to think about whether we are bringing some life from there which may put us in a difficult situation.
But at this time, astronomers think that there is so much sterilization Phobos due to the ultraviolet rays of the Sun We do not have to worry too much about planetary protection.
The samples from Jezero crater which will come back in 2031 for that we have to see about planetary protection. In the end, just think about this 20 km potato shape rock that has so many mysteries in it. Imagine the asteroids in our solar system, the comets, the moons of the planets, and the planets and I am not talking about other solar system yet, but in our own solar system, there are so many mysteries waiting for us to solve them.