NASA Says One of Mars' Moons Is Going to Crash Into Its Surface

Have you ever seen a Moon doomed to collide and burn into the Martian surface, ushering in a solar eclipse? Now you have.

NASA's Perseverance rover took and uploaded a video this week showing Phobos, one of two Martian satellites described by NASA as having a characteristic potato form, crossing the Sun's surface. The space agency said in a news statement that the film would enable scientists to better understand the moon's orbit and how its gravity interacts with the Martian surface.

“Scientists already know that Phobos is doomed,” NASA said in the statement. “[It’s] getting closer to the Martian surface and is destined to crash into the planet in tens of millions of years. But eclipse observations from the surface of Mars over the last two decades have also allowed scientists to refine their understanding of Phobos’ slow death spiral.”

The good news is that Phobos' ultimate extinction is unlikely to occur very soon, which means NASA's ambitions to put people on Mars remain viable. According to the same news release, Perseverance is now studying astrobiology and looking for indications of life on Mars in order to pave the road for human missions to land.

All of this effort should benefit NASA's Artemis project, which aims to place the first woman and person of color on Earth's Moon. Although recent rocket tests have been less than ideal, the objective is to launch to Mars using insights acquired from returning to the lunar surface.

If we do make it there, it would be nice to have the Perseverance rover as a reminder of our achievements. Perhaps it will even see the extinction of Phobos millennia from now, after this week's eclipse.

Reference: NASA

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