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T.L. Roush (NASA Ames Research Center)
Ultraviolet, visual, and near-infrared spectra of Phobos, obtained by Mariner 9 and Viking Orbiters, were interpreted to suggest a compositional similarity with carbonaceous chrondrites. Such a composition would be inconsistent with the moons origin in the proto-Mars region, as Mars is composed chiefly of differentiated silicates. This interpretation was used to suggest that the moons originated in the main-asteroid belt, with subsequent capture and orbital evolution into their current locations. Interpretations of more recent visual and near-infrared spectra, obtained by Phobos-2 and Mars Pathfinder, have demonstrated that the Phobos spectrum is more similar to spectra of other classes of asteroids and lunar soils. If lunar mare soil is the correct analogy, then such a composition suggests a formation of Phobos from materials similar to that on Mars, i.e. basalts, and would not require a dynamically difficult capture and orbital evolution. During the science phasing orbits of the Mars Global Surveyor mission Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) observations of Phobos were acquired at each of four encounters. The spectral variability observed for localized surface regions on Phobos has been previously reported and is greatest near the northern wall of Stickney crater. Interpretation of the thermal infrared spectra of airless bodies, based upon most existing laboratory measurements, is complicated by the absence of interstitial gases on the celestial objects that would act to minimize potential thermal gradients in the upper layers of the surface. As an aid to interpretation of the TES Phobos spectra they are compared to telescopic and airborne thermal infrared spectra of asteroids from several classes, including Ceres (G), Pallas (B), and Vesta (V). The asteroid spectra provide a direct analogy to the physical situation encountered at the surface of Phobos, albeit different thermal gradients may exist for each surface. This work is supported by NASA RTOP's 344-30-30-01 and 344-34-21-08.