An artist

Mars could slowly tear apart its largest moon

Artist’s impression of the Mars moons Phobos (left) and Deimos (right) orbiting the Red Planet. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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Mars’ largest moon, Phobos, is showing signs of being torn apart by the extreme gravitational forces exerted on it by the red planet, according to a new study. Researchers have revealed that the unusual grooves covering the surface of Phobos, which were previously thought to be scars from an ancient asteroid impact, are actually dust-filled canyons that widen as the moon stretches under the effect of gravitational forces.

Phobos measures about 17 miles (27 kilometers) at its widest point and its orbits March at a distance of 3,728 miles (6,000 km), making a full rotation around the red planet three times a day, according to Nasa (opens in a new tab). For comparison, Earth moon is about 2,159 miles (3,475 km) wide, 238,855 miles (384,400 km) from our planet, and takes about 27 days to complete an orbit.

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