Mars is being watched – not only by humans, who keep an eye on future missions and potential extraterrestrial colonies – but also by another space rock.
This asteroid is much smaller than the Red Planet. Also known as a Trojan, it follows the orbit of a planet because it is stuck 60 degrees forward or backward on that planet. It may have broken off the Moon as strong impacts were still shaping the early solar system. An international team of astronomers and planetary researchers at the Armagh Observatory and Observatory (AOP) in Northern Ireland observed it with the Very Large Telescope X-SHOOTER spectroscopy. X-SHOOTER (sounds completely like Star Wars technology belonging to one X wing) revealed something strange.
It turns out that despite following Mars, asteroid 101429 appears to share DNA with the Moon. Further research will reveal whether it is actually a piece of the moon that broke apart in a major impact billions of years ago. It could come from Mars or the Inner Main Belt of asteroids. However, X-SHOOTER measured its luminance at different light wavelengths showing its spectral configuration. The team, led by the astronomer Apostolos Christou, who recently led a study published on Icarus, realized that its DNA spectrum has more in common with the Moon than anything else.
“Asteroids shine by reflected sunlight, so the configuration defined by X-SHOOTER will always display the Sun’s spectrum,” Christou told SYFY wire. “But astronomers can explain that and show a characteristic profile of the asteroid that made it up. This can then be used to compare the asteroid with other asteroids, asteroids or even the planet’s surface.
What types of minerals are present on the surface of an asteroid can be determined by their different colors, which is why spectral configurations can tell which cosmic debris came from However, it is not always easy to find out. Sometimes they share DNA with more than one object. Spectra of the year 101429 show high levels of pyroxene, which is common on planet-sized objects. The lunar surface is rich in pyroxene. Most of it is found in crater walls and craters, but this mineral also exists in smaller but still significant amounts on Mars, but Mars has such amounts of pyroxene because it is much larger than that. Moon.
Suspicions about Mars were even stronger when the year 101429 became more closely linked with the other Trojans to which it was related, the Eureka family. The problem is that their chemical composition doesn’t match. 101429 is rich in pyroxene, while the asteroid Eureka is rich in olivine. This is an indication of their origin from what should now be a planetary mantle. Olivine is usually found in the inner parts of a planet, deep in the mantle, while pyroxene tends to be in the crust. Christou believes there is another reason that may be of Mars origin.
“The asteroid’s origins from Mars are also fascinating, in the sense that it takes less energy – and therefore less impact – to throw the asteroid from Mars to its Troy clouds than it does. with bringing it from the Moon, ”he said.
Mars has a crater that can betray the origin of 101429. Its Borealis basin is almost the size of the entire planet and anything ejected from the collision leaves a crater in place. that would easily generate debris it arrives at 101429 now.
That still doesn’t rule out the Moon. Planets and other celestial bodies are made in relation to what materials are available in the areas they form. The Moon and Mars are mainly made up of the same thing, and although the numbers are different, this means they are formed at the same distance from the Sun. Trojans have caused a lot of curiosity among scientists because they are relics from the early solar system when larger planets and moons formed. Already a few Mars Trojans have been found closer to the Sun, which is understandable when their composition says they must form around the same area.
“Near the Sun, water and other volatile substances don’t exist in solid form, and all you have to make planets are rocks and metals,” Christou said.
So is there any way to prove that 101429 is Fragment of the Moon or Mars? More data is needed before that can happen. The only way to be sure is to measure its composition directly or send a spaceship to capture a sample and bring it back to Earth. The upcoming telescopes are more powerful than anything we have today, such as the James Webb Telescope and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, which can give us that information, and GAIA can see. See something in the meantime.
Right now, it looks like Mars already has a fan base.