While it’s largely known that Phobos, Mars’ larger moon, is set for destruction as it falls victim to Mars’ gravitational pull, scientists have discovered that it’s condition is a lot worse than presumed. Since the moon is so close to the planet, it has been taking the brunt of Mars’ tidal pull, revealing long, shallow grooves that scientists believe to be stress fractures.
Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland theorize that the marks are evidence of Phobos losing the battle between the gravitational tug of war between Mars and the satellite. With Phobos losing altitude and getting closer to Mars, the effects will probably only get worse.
Scientists believe that Phobos has about 30 to 50 million years left before it is expected to hit Mars. “We think the grooves are signs that this body is starting to break apart tidally and that these are the first evidence of the tidal deformations of Phobos,” Terry Hurford, a planetary scientist with NASA Goddard tells Discovery News.”Eventually, Phobos will be ripped apart before it reaches Mars’ surface.”