Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

New Theory: Catastrophe Created Mars' Moons
space.com ^ | 29 Jul 03 | Leonard David

Posted on 07/29/2003 8:56:47 AM PDT by RightWhale

New Theory: Catastrophe Created Mars' Moons

By Leonard David Senior Space Writer

posted: 07:00 am ET 29 July 2003

PASADENA, California – The two moons of Mars – Phobos and Deimos – could be the byproducts of a breakup of a huge moon that once circled the red planet, according to a new theory. The capture of a large Martian satellite may have taken place during or shortly after the formation of the planet, with Phobos and Deimos now the surviving remnants.

Origin of the two moons presents a longstanding puzzle to which one researcher proposed the new solution at the 6th International Conference on Mars, held here last week. "Nobody has been able to explain the origin of Phobos and Deimos," said S. Fred Singer of the University of Virginia’s Science & Environmental Policy Project in Arlington, Virginia.

Violating laws

Based on research performed as a visiting scientist at the Lunar & Planetary Institute in Houston in October 2002, Singer said that conventional hypotheses about the moons either violate physical laws or have difficulty accounting for their observed orbits

Singer reported at the meeting that "there are no ready alternatives to explain the origin of the Martian moons."

At present, both satellites have near-circular and near-equatorial orbits. Phobos’ orbit, however, has been observed to shrink since its discovery in 1877. The present track of Deimos -- just beyond the synchronous limit where it nearly matches the spin rate of Mars – is an important data point, Singer said. "Is that by accident? I don’t think so…it gives you a clue about its origin," he told SPACE.com.

Through a complex set of orbital calculations involving Mars, the large hypothetical Mars moon itself, and tracing back in time the past and present whereabouts of Phobos and Deimos, Singer believes he has a case. In the Singer scenario, the close proximity of a large original moon to the red planet – captured in Mars synchronous orbit -- would have eventually fractured the object. Gravitational pushes and tugs would have turned it into a rubble pile that would still cling together gravitationally. "Forces would soon drive the largest pieces into Mars, with the smallest pieces remaining as Phobos and Deimos," Singer said. In the breakup process, the most massive pieces would spiral in far more rapidly, crashing into the planet. "We need to look for some sign that these existed."

Phobos: going, going, gone

A fundamental prediction by Singer is that the moons are similar in composition and petrology. However, Phobos and Deimos do not appear to be comparable. That distinction is obvious in looking at the differences in their regoliths – each moon’s topside covering. "We need both surface and deep samples to decide this issue, and to investigate whether Phobos and Deimos once formed as parts of a larger body, most of which has now disappeared, perhaps by impacting on Mars," Singer said.

Singer said Phobos will die in a few million years. "We’re lucky in the sense that we’re seeing Phobos while it’s still around," he said.

Destination Deimos

Singer has plans for Deimos. The scientist believes the moon would serve as a natural space station for future human explorers.

"First of all, humans on the surface of Mars cannot really do the exploration directly. They have to use rovers to get around. To go from the equator to a pole on Mars just takes too long. It’s a big, dangerous journey," Singer said. What Singer envisions is a Deimos gateway to extensive Mars exploration. An encampment of astronauts would reside on the Martian moon. From there, dozens of rovers could be autopiloted, in real-time.

"There would be no time delay, or so short that it’s within the human reaction time," Singer said. From Deimos, quick, down-to-the-surface sorties could be undertaken by humans to select areas, he added.

"This would be a 15-year project, as I look at it. It would cost roughly $30 billion, funded at some $2 billion a year average. That’s well within the existing NASA budget," Singer said. On the political side, Congress is not likely to fund a long series of robotic roving probes to Mars that extends over decades. "That would not be a very efficient way of studying Mars. If you want to solve the really big problems of Mars, like origin of life, you need to do this in one fell swoop," Singer concluded.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: asteroid; asteroids; bodeslaw; catastrophe; catastrophism; deimos; doom; fear; hemisphereofcraters; impact; impacts; mars; martiandesert; martianequator; martianimpact; moon; moons; oppositehemisphere; origins; pascalrosenblatt; patten; phobos; rochelimit; rocheradius; sfredsinger; terror; titiusbode; titiusbodeslaw; tvf; vanflandern; xplanets
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-63 next last
Deimos is okay. Phobos is better. The point is that we don't have to land on Mars, but can build our Mars base on one of the moons. Much easier, much safer.
1 posted on 07/29/2003 8:56:47 AM PDT by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
All your moons are belong to us.
2 posted on 07/29/2003 9:05:19 AM PDT by talleyman (E=mc2 (before taxes))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: talleyman
All your moons

Why can't we get it right anymore? 90% of the time it is wrong these days. Cultural decadence: can't keep a tradition alive for a trivial year.

3 posted on 07/29/2003 9:10:18 AM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: KevinDavis
ping
4 posted on 07/29/2003 9:15:20 AM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: Quatermass
Of course. That's why using one of them as a manned base would be so easy.
6 posted on 07/29/2003 9:18:41 AM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
"Nobody has been able to explain the origin of Phobos and Deimos," said S. Fred Singer of the University of Virginia’s Science & Environmental Policy Project in Arlington, Virginia.

Unfortunately, nobody has been able to explain the origin of any moon in our solar system. Why should Phobos and Deimos be any different?

7 posted on 07/29/2003 9:19:51 AM PDT by far sider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
"The scientist believes the moon would serve as a natural space station for future human explorers."

But what do you do when the Space Marines discover a demon-infested gateway to Hell? </Doom>
8 posted on 07/29/2003 9:27:59 AM PDT by Genesis defender (Jesus still loves you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
We should have been informed of this years ago. What was the president trying to hide?
9 posted on 07/29/2003 9:29:56 AM PDT by zook
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: far sider
Almost all books I read as a kid said that Phobos and Deimos were both just captured asteroids, mostly because they looked lumpy and pock-marked like other asteroids.

10 posted on 07/29/2003 9:31:48 AM PDT by Genesis defender (Jesus still loves you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
Singer said Phobos will die in a few million years. "We’re lucky in the sense that we’re seeing Phobos while it’s still around," he said.

I'll say we're lucky! Another few million years and we'd have missed the whole thing!!

11 posted on 07/29/2003 9:31:50 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (France delenda est)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Genesis defender
Almost all books I read as a kid said that Phobos and Deimos were both just captured asteroids, mostly because they looked lumpy and pock-marked like other asteroids.

That's the problem. If they were captured asteroids they should have elliptical orbits. Phobos and Deimos have nearly circular orbits like Earth's Moon.

12 posted on 07/29/2003 9:38:16 AM PDT by far sider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Genesis defender
Almost all books I read as a kid said that Phobos and Deimos were both just captured asteroids, mostly because they looked lumpy and pock-marked like other asteroids.

Circular orbit is tough to acheive in a gravity capture.

13 posted on 07/29/2003 9:39:37 AM PDT by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: zook
Good, Very Good.
14 posted on 07/29/2003 9:45:09 AM PDT by Rik0Shay
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
Phoebos and Deimos are two asteroid generation ships which took up orbit around Mars sometime prior to 1877. The crews have since been exploring the Solar System and account for all those UFO sightings.

Hey, I can come up with just as plausible a conspiracy theory as anyone else!

15 posted on 07/29/2003 9:53:03 AM PDT by Junior (Killed a six pack ... just to watch it die.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Genesis defender
I read books as a kid too.

How about this: "They have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which resolve around Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary planet exactly three of his diameters, and the outtermost five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one and a half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the center of Mars, which evidently shows they to be goverened by the same law of gravitation that influence other heavenly bodies." -A VOYAGE TO LAPUTA, GULLIVERS TRAVELS, 1726

This discription is within 20% accurate, but the moons were not discovered until 1877 when a powerful enough telescope was created. The moons of Mars have the lowest index of reflectivity of any bodies that we know of in the solar system(almost black). They are also so small, that to be seen from earth by the naked eye, Mars would have to appear in the sky 50 times larger than our moon.

Explain that!
16 posted on 07/29/2003 10:01:01 AM PDT by D Rider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
What if Mars were a moon of a large planet whose remnants now make up the asteroid belt? The shape of Mars suggest that it was in synchronous orbit of a large object or a large object was in synchronous orbit with it. If Mars was a moon of a large planet and that large planet disentegrated for some reason, the odds of pieces of that planet being stationary relative to Mars may be low enough that there is only two pieces (Phobos and Deimos) left today in circular orbit (interesting that Deimos is in nearly syncronous orbit). The disentagration process may be what pushed Mars to it's orbit now or perhaps the disentgration took place at the right moment in Mars' orbit around the large planet to take Mars to it's current orbit. Mars shows signs of being plastered on one side by debris miles thick, like a person's head in a pie fight. Whatever happened, it happened in one day, not over the course of thousands of years. It seems to me by measuring the nodes on Mars (nodes created by the synchronous orbit), we could estimate the size of the object that was either orbiting Mars or the object Mars was orbiting, whichever the case may be.
17 posted on 07/29/2003 10:04:49 AM PDT by #3Fan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: #3Fan
if Mars were a moon of a large planet whose remnants now make up the asteroid belt?

That's van Flandern's radical proposal. Nothing adds up, mass, orbits, composition, time schedule. We may never know. If we did know, it would be one of the few things we actually know.

18 posted on 07/29/2003 10:08:47 AM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Genesis defender
Find a BFG9000, and send those hell spawn back to whence they came!
19 posted on 07/29/2003 10:11:09 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
That's van Flandern's radical proposal. Nothing adds up, mass, orbits, composition, time schedule. We may never know. If we did know, it would be one of the few things we actually know.

There has to be an explanation of the fact that it is plastered on one side, though. It was close to a planet-size or at least a large-moon-size object that disintegrated. If it weren't for that then this would be a radical theory because there wouldn't be much evidence. I think it's more radical to ignore this plastering than to consider a theory that explains it.

20 posted on 07/29/2003 10:13:57 AM PDT by #3Fan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-63 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson