Scientists have found an explanation for the mysterious lines on Phobos

Back in the 1970s, during the Mariner and Viking missions, the NASA space agency received photographs of Mars and its satellite Phobos. It was then that astronomers noticed that there were mysterious bands on the surface of the satellite. They had three assumptions about their occurrence. First, the lines could remain after a collision with space junk. Secondly, it may be cracks, foreshadowing the imminent destruction of Phobos. Third, the grooves could occur when the Stickney crater appeared. The third option was the most plausible.

Stickney is the largest crater on the surface of the satellite of Mars – if the diameter of Phobos is 27 km, the diameter of the crater is 9 km. It is so big that there is another crater inside it, Limtok, about 2 km in diameter. It is believed that the size of the Stick is so huge that it is simply impossible to distinguish it from the surface of Mars.

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The hypothesis that the furrows were formed by debris that arose during the collision of an object with Foos, was put forward in 1970. To confirm it, researchers from Brown University, Kenneth Ramsley and James Head, recreated the moment of crater formation on the computer. The simulation completely simulated the movement of debris, given the shape of the satellite and the gravitational environment in which it is located.

Stickney-Crater-on-Phobos-imaged-by-Mars-Global-Surveyor-NASA-JPL-MSSS-650x359 Science  Scientists have found an explanation for the mysterious lines on Phobos

The model was launched on an ordinary laptop, according to the researchers, they “just pressed a button and watched what was going on.” To their surprise, the boulders could really leave deep marks. Due to the small size of the satellite, they skirted it several times – this explains the intersection of the lines. Previously, the hypothesis about the relationship between the Stick and the lines was rejected precisely because the grooves passed one above the other. It was believed that if they struck the line would be straight.

Also, the simulation revealed the secret of why Phobos has a blind zone, where mysterious lines are completely absent. It turns out that this territory is surrounded by rocky protrusions that served as springboards for boulders – they simply flew over this zone.

Also, the hypothesis was questioned due to the fact that the lines are even inside the crater. There was an assumption that the “scars” appeared long after the appearance of Stick. The computer model has also dispelled this doubt – some blocks simply slipped back to where they came from, into the crater.


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Updated: November 25, 2018 — 10:06 pm

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