A new report prepared by the Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) circulating in the Kremlin today states that Comet C/2012 S1 has made a number of “unexplained orbital adjustments” around the planet Mars seemingly to better align itself with the Red planets strange moon Phobos.
According to this report, Comet C/2012 S1 was first discovered on 21 September 2012 by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok using the International Scientific Optical Network, thus giving this comet its name ISON. Phobos is the larger and closer of the two natural satellites of Mars and with a mean radius of 11.1 km (6.9 mi) it is 7.24 times more massive than the second moon Deimos.
Important to note about Phobos, this report continues, was in 1958 when Russian astrophysicist Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky, studying the secular acceleration of Phobos’s orbital motion, suggested a “thin sheet metal” structure for Phobos, a suggestion which led to speculations that Phobos was of artificial origin.
Shklovsky based his analysis on estimates of the upper Martian atmosphere’s density, and deduced that for the weak braking effect to be able to account for the secular acceleration, Phobos had to be very light — one calculation yielded a hollow iron sphere 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) across but less than 6 cm thick.
In a February 1960 letter to the journal Astronautics, Fred Singer, then science advisor to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, said of Shklovsky’s theory:
“If the satellite is indeed spiraling inward as deduced from astronomical observation, then there is little alternative to the hypothesis that it is hollow and therefore Martian made. The big ‘if’ lies in the astronomical observations; they may well be in error. Since they are based on several independent sets of measurements taken decades apart by different observers with different instruments, systematic errors may have influenced them.”