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Mars moon is being pulled apart, NASA says
New modeling indicates that the grooves on Mars moon Phobos could be produced by tidal forces the mutual gravitational pull of the planet and the moon. Initially, scientists had thought the grooves were created by the massive impact that made Stickney crater (lower right). - photo by Natalie Crofts
GREENBELT, Md. The process could take 30 to 50 million years, but NASA says Mars moon is falling apart.

Phobos, the moon that tightly orbits the red planet, is already showing signs of distress. On Tuesday, NASA researchers said the long, shallow grooves that line the moons surface are warning signs of what is to come.

We think that Phobos has already started to fail, and the first sign of this failure is the production of these grooves, NASA researcher Terry Hurford said in a statement.

The larger of Mars two moons, Phobos is unique in our solar system because of how close it is to the surface of the planet it orbits. It is located 3,700 miles away from the red planet nearer than any other moon and planet pair and Mars gravity field is pulling it in at a rate of 6.6 feet per century.

The resulting tidal forces from the gravitational pull of Mars and Phobos created the long grooves, which the NASA team described as being stretch marks. While researchers long believed Phobos was mostly solid, they now suspect the interior of Phobos could be a rubble pile, barely holding together, surrounded by a powdery regolith about 330 feet thick. A weaker interior would explain why the stress from tidal forces could cause the moons structure to fail.

Phobos might not be the only moon in the solar system experiencing these problems, according to NASA. Researchers said cracks on Neptunes moon Triton looks similar to Phoboss grooved surface.
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