by Acad. Eric GALIMOV, director of the V. I. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry (GEOKHI), Russian Academy of Sciences
Two satellites of Mars. The radius of the Phobos orbit, 9,378 km.
After this country launched the first artificial satellite of the earth, the sputnik, in October 1957, space studies moved to the foreground the world over in the interests of basic and applied sciences. Here in Russia our scientists and engineers are making an immense contribution to problem solving in this area. The present article acquaints our readers with a singular project within the framework of the federal space research program providing for lunar and planetary studies, among other things.
Why Phobos? This is a natural question for our readers to ask. Indeed: Why fly to this small satellite of Mars and waste so much money what with other objectives and problems, including those on this planet of ours, the earth?
In a way the answer comes from the American astrophysicist and planetary scientist Carl Sagan who, back in 1993, wrote about certain fundamental questions, such as the beginnings of life and of our planet, the origins of nature, and the future of the Universe... Space studies are the tools in our search for the clues to these and other enigmas. But they are expensive, these studies. Therefore
it is important to develop most effective projects at the lowest expense. The Russian "PHOBOS-GRUNT" is one such project.
WHAT IS PHOBOS?
Phobos is one of the two Martian satellites, a relatively small body of irregular form 27x22x19 km in size. Its density is rather low, about 1.9 g/cm3 , i.e. that of loose sand (the figure is 3.3 g/cm3 for the moon). Its period of revolution around Mars is equal to 7 h 39 min, and its orbit is synchronized with the period of revolution. That is why Phobos faces the Red Planet with one side only, just like the moon does the earth. The orbital radius of Phobos around Mars is 9,378 km, it flies at an a ... Читать далее