Simulating re-impacts from craters at the deepest location of Phobos to generate its blue spectral units

1Hiroshi Kikuchi
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article []
1Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, JAXA, Sagamihara 252-5210, Japan
Copyright Elsevier

The spatial distribution pattern of ejecta from an impact crater on the surface of a body in space holds clues to understanding the ejecta launch conditions, the crater excavation process, and the dynamical environment. In particular, focusing on re-impact sites from larger or deeper craters on the surface is important, as they tend to preserve much of the original information. The surface of the Martian satellite Phobos is spectrally divided into red and blue units. The former are globally distributed, while the blue units have been observed inside and outside the Stickney crater—the largest and deepest crater on Phobos. Outside the crater, the blue units are concentrated in the region from the south to the west (south-west blue units) and in the region east of the crater (east blue units). Several models can explain the concentration of east blue units. However, the mode of formation of south-west blue units is still unknown, despite its vast area. We proposed that the combination of ejecta from Stickney and Limtoc (a crater located on the floor of Stickney) contributed to the formation of the blue units. We tested the model using ballistic simulations incorporating, an updated shape model with randomly generated ejecta velocities, different values of orbital radii to Mars, and various launching velocities, to track the emplacement of the ejecta particles. The results showed that the distribution of the two blue units is recreated when the combined re-impact sites of ejecta from Stickney and Limtoc have orbital radius (XPh) values of XPh > 3.34 RM and XPh < 3.04 RM, respectively. The observations and the results suggest that Phobos comprises an inner blue layer covered by red materials globally and locally excavated blue materials, and the age of the Stickney crater may be sufficiently old to be estimated from the crater densities.


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