Multicolor Observations of Phobos with the Viking Lander Cameras: Evidence for a Carbonaceous Chondritic Composition

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Science  06 Jan 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4324, pp. 66-69
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4324.66


The reflectivity of Phobos has been determined in the spectral region from 0.4 to 1.1 micrometers from images taken with a Viking lander camera. The reflectivity curve is flat in this spectral interval and the geometric albedo equals 0.05 ± 0.01. These results, together with Phobos's reflectivity spectrum in the ultraviolet, are compared with laboratory spectra of carbonaceous chondrites and basalts. The spectra of carbonaceous chondrites are consistent with the observations, whereas the basalt spectra are not. These findings raise the possibility that Phobos may be a captured object rather than a natural satellite of Mars.