As the Perseverance rover by NASA captures images of Phobos, it also reveals a terrifying truth that one day the Mars moon will crash into the planet.
Last week, the Perseverance rover, launched by NASA, captured stunning images of Phobos as it eclipsed the Sun. The gorgeous view of Phobos shielding the Sun’s rays from reaching the surface of Mars was both a beautiful sight and a terrifying reminder of the future that is to come. The Mars moon is destined to one day slam into the surface of Mars and be destroyed into small pieces causing the planet irreparable damage in the process. Yes, Phobos is inching close to Mars every passing day and soon, it will become a part of the red planet forever. But while looking at the terrifying future of Mars and Phobos, another realization is equally important – our Moon won’t be the same forever. To know more about the fates of these moons, read on.
NASA: Phobos to crash into Mars
The future of Phobos is not a new revelation but one which NASA was reminded of as its Perseverance rover observed the solar eclipse brought on by it. In a blog post around the same, NASA stated, “Scientists already know that Phobos is doomed: The moon is getting closer to the Martian surface and is destined to crash into the planet in tens of millions of years.” But at the same time, the post acknowledged the role of observing such eclipses in allowing scientists to refine their understanding of Phobos’ slow death spiral.
Explaining the speed of the process, NASA has detailed out the final descent of Phobos in its website, “Phobos is nearing Mars at a rate of six feet (1.8 meters) every hundred years; at that rate, it will either crash into Mars in 50 million years or break up into a ring ”.
Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. While Phobos is destined to meet its end by crashing onto Mars, Deimos on the other hand will drift away from the red planet. The second moon of the red planet is getting farther away slowly from the planet. One day it will leave the orbit of Mars and become an asteroid, a similar fate to our own Moon.
While Phobos crashes into Mars, Earth’s Moon will drift away
The only Moon of the Earth is moving away from the planet at the rate of about 3.78 centimeters (1.5 inches) per year. While an eventuality is to never see the Moon in the sky again, scientists are more concerned about another side-effect of this movement. As the Moon moves farther away, the number of solar eclipses will decrease. NASA predicts in about 600 million years from today, the Earth will witness its final solar eclipse ever.