American planetary scientists have revealed one of the greatest secrets of Mars due to the tilt of the satellite of the planet Deimos. On Tuesday, June 2, the press service of the Institute for the Search for Extraterrestrial Civilizations (SETI).
According to Matthia Chuck, a SETI planetologist, “in the past, few thought about why Deimos’s orbit doesn’t ideally coincide with the position of the Martian equator – no one tried to explain this anomaly,” but astronomers began to suggest that in the near future another satellite of Mars Phobos will be destroyed by the force of gravity of the Red Planet. This will lead to the formation of a flat disk of gas and dust, similar in appearance, density and other properties to the rings of Saturn.
According to scientists, this will happen in about 20–40 million years. Planetologists have suggested that something similar has already happened in the history of Mars several times. They calculated the gravitational interactions of Phobos, Deimos and the fourth planet of the solar system. Deimos is gradually moving away from Mars, and its orbit is tilted by 2 degrees relative to the equator of the Red Planet. At the same time, Deimos and Phobos behaved in the same way throughout their entire existence in the orbit of Mars. Analyzing various alternative hypotheses, Chuck and his colleagues noticed that the unusual angle of inclination of the orbit of Deimos and its distance from Mars can be explained if in the past the Red Planet had another satellite, the mass of which was 20 times that of Phobos.
The rotation in the orbit of Mars, Deimos, and this alleged object was synchronized in a special way. Deimos made one revolution around the planet, and during this time another satellite made three turns around Mars.
During such synchronization, both planets quickly lost energy and approached Mars. This led to the fact that the larger ancient Martian “moon”, located closer to the planet, fell into its gravitational sphere of influence and was destroyed and formed the first gas-dust ring of Mars about 3 billion years ago.
About 80% of this “moon” in the form of gas and dust fell on the surface of the Red Planet, while a new satellite appeared from the remaining 20%. He began to gradually move away from Mars until he reached a certain point where the same set of forces began to act on him as on the previous version of the progenitor Phobos.
According to scientists, this cycle has been repeated several times and led to the birth of at least three different versions of Phobos, each of which was significantly smaller than the previous one. It follows that Deimos is much older than Phobos. This hypothesis can be proved or disproved by studying rock samples of Martian satellites.
Perhaps this opportunity will be provided by the Japanese mission of MMX, which will go to Deimos and Phobos in 2024 to study their geology and history of their appearance.
On April 13, Maxim Litvak, the head of the neutron and gamma-spectroscopy laboratory of the department of nuclear planetology of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that humanity would make its first attempts to colonize Mars soon, but that the planet would be fully mastered in the distant future.