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Mars Moon: Phobos

An image of Phobos

Phobos, The larger of the two small moons of Mars, was discovered in August 12, 1977 by Hall and closely photographed almost a hundred years later by the Mariner 9 in 1971. Its most impressive feature is the crater Stickney, some 9 km (6 mi.) in diameter, the formation of which would have involved an impact which almost shattered the little satellite.

High resolution images of Stickney, obtained by the Mars Global Surveyor, have shown the crater to be filled with fine dust and provided evidence of boulders sliding down its steep sides. Phobos is also on a collision course with Mars. Since it is orbiting below the synchronous orbit radius, forces will lower the moon closer and closer to Mars (current rate at about 1.8 m closer per century) that in about 50 million years, Phobos will collide into the planet.

Both Phobos and Deimos are suspected to be captured asteroids either from our own asteroid belt or another part of our universe. The temperature varies between about -4 C (25 F) on the sunlit side of the moon and -112 C (-70 F). In Greek mythology, Phobos is one of the sons of Ares and Aphrodite.

This image of Phobos, the inner and larger of the two moons of Mars, was taken by the Mars Global Surveyor on August 19, 1998.

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