On the Impact Origin of Phobos and Deimos. II. True Polar Wander and Disk Evolution

Ryuki Hyodo1,2, Pascal Rosenblatt3,3, Hidenori Genda1, and Sébastien Charnoz2
Astrophysical Journal 851, 122 Link to Article [DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa9984]
1Earth-Life Science Institute/Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 Tokyo, Japan
2Institut de Physique du Globe/Université Paris Diderot/CNRS, F-75005 Paris, France
3Royal Observatory of Belgium, B-1180 Brussels, Belgium

Phobos and Deimos are the two small Martian moons, orbiting almost on the equatorial plane of Mars. Recent works have shown that they can accrete within an impact-generated inner dense and outer light disk, and that the same impact potentially forms the Borealis basin, a large northern hemisphere basin on the current Mars. However, there is no a priori reason for the impact to take place close to the north pole (Borealis present location), nor to generate a debris disk in the equatorial plane of Mars (in which Phobos and Deimos orbit). In this paper, we investigate these remaining issues on the giant impact origin of the Martian moons. First, we show that the mass deficit created by the Borealis impact basin induces a global reorientation of the planet to realign its main moment of inertia with the rotation pole (True Polar Wander). This moves the location of the Borealis basin toward its current location. Next, using analytical arguments, we investigate the detailed dynamical evolution of the eccentric inclined disk from the equatorial plane of Mars that is formed by the Martian-moon-forming impact. We find that, as a result of precession of disk particles due to the Martian dynamical flattening J 2 term of its gravity field and particle–particle inelastic collisions, eccentricity and inclination are damped and an inner dense and outer light equatorial circular disk is eventually formed. Our results strengthen the giant impact origin of Phobos and Deimos that can finally be tested by a future sample return mission such as JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration mission.

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