The Fearsome Scale of Phobos
“QUANTUM SHOT” #784
Under the Shadow of the Martian Moon
Here is a striking scale comparison of Phobos superimposed upon a medium-size European city, Grenoble, France – does it look unexpectedly small for a Martian moon? Or, true to its name (“Fear”), terrifyingly large and overbearing?
Phobos has a highly irregular shape: roughly 26,8 x 18,4 km (somewhat potato-shaped, see here – and not very large), but it is still 7.2 times more massive than Deimos, the second Mars satellite. Here is Phobos hovering over a conventional map of the area:
This wonderful photo manipulation was made by French artist Ludovic Celle, who enjoys making nifty concept art of human colonization of Mars: habitats, vehicles and imaginary landscapes. He shared some of his work exclusively for the readers of Dark Roasted Blend, and we will feature some of his concepts in our forthcoming Mars articles.
The scale of Phobos is also apparent from this futuristic image of spider robots mining its surface:
Check out other Mars-related art by Ludovic Celle on his blog. Ludovic Celle also creates other apocalyptic visions involving Grenoble, the most impressive perhaps being the asteroid crater smack in the middle of highways and infrastructure (left image below):
By the way, the city of Grenoble can fit entirely inside the biggest crater on Phobos – the Stickney Crater, a testament to some horrifying impact Phobos suffered in the past:
Phobos is a really interesting piece of rock (or rather “sponge”, as it is really porous). It orbits Mars so closely that it rises and sets above the horizon two times a day – as it whips across the sky much faster than Mars rotates. Phobos also probably contains a huge amount of ice inside its pores… and was probably formed from many chunks of material ejected into space by impacts on the surface of Mars (“representing at least 12 Martian impact events”). Thus, it can be defined as some sort of a celestial 3D jigsaw puzzle – as it zips around Mars waiting for us to take a closer look and explore its “fearsome” innards.
If the awesome picture of Phobos “hovering” over Grenoble made you wonder what would happen if this were an asteroid impact, rest assured that a heavenly body this size would completely obliterate every sign of life on Earth (including every multicellular organism in existence, not just destroy our civilization).