Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mars' moon Phobos and Love and Intrigue Under the Seven Moons of Kordea

Helena Puumala’s SF Romance series features a planet, Kordea, with seven moons.  This rather unusual setting gives me the opportunity to talk about some of the remarkable moons in our solar system, as I test different moons for the cover of book 2 of the series (link given below).  This blog is about the larger moon of Mars, Phobos.  Though it is the larger of the two moons of Mars, it is really very small, probably a captured asteroid from the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The Witches’ Stones Book 2: Love and Intrigue under the Seven Moons of Kordea.

Here are a few facts about Mars’s moon, Phobos, courtesy of Wiki:

  • It is the innermost of Mars’s two moons, and only about 11 km in radius.  That’s the average radius – it is small enough that it hasn’t exactly become spherical under its own gravitational field.  It is a bit of a potato shape (27 by 22 by 18 km).
  • It is heavily cratered.  The big crater is called Stickney.  There are a lot of other surface features, such as grooves and streaks.
  • There may be ice under the surface, given its density, which is lower than rock.
  • It orbits so close to Mars (about 6000 km from the surface) that it actually rises and sets approximately twice each day.  So, on Mars, a day contains two Phobos months.
  • The L1 point (where the gravity of Mars and Phobos is balanced between them) is only 2.5 km above the surface of Phobos.
  • It is too small to eclipse the sun, but its shadow does move across the planet’s surface when it transits the sun.
  • It is getting closer to Mars by about a meter each year.  Some time in the next 50 million years or so, there will be a collision.
  • There are theories that say it is not a captured asteroid, but formed at the same time as Mars, based on certain orbital characteristics (e.g. highly circular equatorial orbit).
  • In the late 1950’s there was serious speculation that Phobos might be a hollow artificial object, again, due to some unusual orbital features.  It was later discovered that the observations that these speculations were based upon were incorrect.
  • Many missions have photographed Phobos from close range.  In fact, the Russians sent a lander there, but sadly it didn’t make it out of the Earth’s orbit, due to a rocked ignition failure.  At least that’s what they say J.
  • Several other missions are under consideration.  The Phobos Monolith would be an interesting place to visit.

Here's a nice shot of Phobos, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008.  It looks a bit like it was hit by a quantum torpedo.



Now, here’s a moon-based pitch for Helena Puumala’s latest SF Romance series, The Witches’ Stones:

Helena Puumala's SF Romance series features the planet Kordea, home to a race of beautiful and powerful psychic aliens, known as the Witches of Kordea.  The planet has seven moons, an extraordinary arrangement for a terrestrial sized planet in its star's habitable zone, as is noted in Book 1, which you can get from the link below:    :).


In fact, the moons of Kordea become a central element in Book 2, now out as well.  The cover below actually borrows Mars’s moon Phobos.  I will by testing out different moons for the cover of the Witches' Stones Book 2, so, as noted above, this gives me the opportunity to do a mini-tour of some of the major moons of our solar system.  Moons, including our own, are fascinating.  A terrestrial planet with seven moons would be cool (though it would probably be a very unstable arrangement).

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