Friday, March 09, 2007

phucking Phobos

A humiliating defeat at Pubstumpers trivia two nights ago, typified by the fact that I did not know that Mars had any (let alone two) moons, led me to check out the scoop on Phobos (the moon not the quake3arena model).
Phobos is the largest and nearest orbiting moon of mars. It is messed up and lopsided and has an interesting history. Apparently Phobos has an unstable orbit if tidal forces are not accounted for. This lead to some speculation, from the US space developments advisor, as late as 1960 that Phobos could be an artificial Martian satellite or base. "Phobos had to be very light —one calculation yielded a hollow iron sphere 16 km across but less than 6 cm thick" (wikipedia on Phobos).
It is so photogenic that I have posted two pics. One shows how small and irregular it is, the other shows it passing the sun from the perspective of the Mars rover Opportunity (click on it to see animated gif action).
All this was ganked from wikipedia.


Bayman said...

That is one ugly looking piece of rock.

Bayman said...

If it's made of iron, that's a pretty useful resource. My bet is that the Martians depleted the resources of their planet despite the cries the pleading cries of the martian Al Gore, and then set out to find extraplanetary resources. Phobos was their iron mine, and they mined the crap out of it, until it finally became so hollow that it collapsed (hence the very aesthetically unpleasing topology). Having depleted the local resources around their own planet, they then used their last remaining iron stores to build iron space ships and booted it to a distant solar system (in such a desperate rush that they failed to notice the resource rich planet that was right on their doorstep, the one which we now call Earth).