Mars' two miniature moons – Phobos and Deimos – solidified from rings of impact debris that encircled the planet after it was hit by some huge object, probably an asteroid.
That's the theory of two scientists from Purdue University, David Minton and Andrew Hesselbrock, who published a study in the journal Nature Geoscience to explain where the two moons came from, reported International Business Times.
Minton and Hesselbrock believe that more than 4 billion years ago, a massive object – thought to be an asteroid – hit Mars.
The planet’s Borealis Basin, which covers a portion of the planet’s surface, is believed to be where the collision initially took place, Space.com noted.
The debris from the impact created rings around Mars, which eventually compacted into one large moon, said the study. That moon then split into two moons due to a strong gravitational pull, a process that could have happened up to seven times, creating one smaller moon after next.
“You could have had kilometer-thick piles of moon sediment raining down on Mars in the early parts of the planet’s history, and there are enigmatic sedimentary deposits on Mars with no explanation as to how they got there,” Minton said. “And now it’s possible to study that material.”
“Not much has happened to Deimos’ orbit since it formed,” he added. “Phobos passing through these resonances would have changed that.”
Hessekbrock told Gizmodo that his argument pertaining to Phobos is that it wasn’t “produced in an impact.”
“The largest impact created a large satellite that, instead of crashing onto Mars, ripped apart,” he said.
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