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One of the most striking features on the irregularly shaped Phobos is the giant Stickney crater (left), clearly visible in this Viking Orbiter image (NASA)
When NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mapped the tiny Martian moon, Phobos and beamed back photos of the small, potato-shaped satellite, a furor broke out amongst space buffs. There, on the surface in plain view, stood a large rectangular object that unmistakably resembled an artificial monolith
Another mystery about Phobos concerns the origin of deep grooves on its surface. Some of these radiate from Stickney, the large impact crater that distorts the shape of the moon.
According to Dr. S. Fred Singer who as a special advisor to President Eisenhower on space developments the Martian moon Phobos, generally accepted as a celestial body, actually may be an artificial satellite launched long ago by an advanced Martian race. Was Phobos some kind of an ‘outpost’ of Mars made by an ET civilization, maybe hundreds of thousands of years ago? Or is it still so?
Dr. Singer backed a claim first made by the Soviet astrophysicist Shklovsky. The Russian scientist’s announcement that Phobos was a hollow, artificial satellite, proving the existence of a Martian civilization, set off heated arguments among astronomers. Shklovsky based his decision on a long study of Phobos’ peculiar orbit, which other astronomers have noted. The Russian claim has calculations and those of earlier astronomers prove Phobos cannot possibly be an ordinary moon. Raymond H. Wilson Jr., Chief of Applied Mathematics at NASA, joined Shklovsky and Dr. Singer in their Martian conclusions. He stated that “Phobos might be a colossal base orbiting Mars.”
U.S. astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, alluded to a monolith detected on Mars’ moon Phobos. Speaking on a U.S. cable television channel he said: “We should visit the moons of Mars. There’s a monolith there – a very unusual structure on this little potato shaped object that goes around Mars once every seven hours. ‘When people find out about that they are going to say, “Who put that there? Who put that there?” Well the universe put it there, or if you choose God put it there.” In 2007 the Canadian Space Agency funded a study for an unmanned mission to Phobos known as PRIME (Phobos Reconnaissance and International Mars Exploration).
A spokesman for the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) department of the university’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Yisrael Spinoza, spoke about the analysis of the monolith. HiRISE is located at the University of Arizona. They acquired the original MRO image of the Phobos anomaly and have studied it intensely.
Spinoza explains, “There are lots of rectangular boulders on Earth and Mars and other planets. Layering from rock deposition combined with tectonic fractures creates right-angle planes of weakness such that rectangular blocks tend to weather out and separate from the bedrock.”
So the university thinks the monolith is nothing more than an unusual rock sticking out of the moon’s surface.
Although Dr. Alan Hildebrand of the Phobos Reconnaissance and International Mars Exploration (PRIME) project agrees with Spinoza, it hasn’t tempered his excitement over the discovery of the rock. The scientific researcher is certain that it could provide answers to questions about the moon’s makeup and past. “If we can get to that object, we likely don’t need to go anywhere else.”
Phobos is a world of mysterious origin and destiny. It is light, with a density less than twice that of water, and orbits just 5989 km above the Martian surface. Recent observations by Mars Global Surveyor have revealed that the surface is covered in one metre thick dust, suggesting erosion due to meteor bombardment as the lack of atmosphere rules out other means. One idea is that Phobos and Deimos, Mars’s other moon, are captured asteroids.
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