Mars May Get A Ring

Posted: Nov 23 2015, 5:39pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Mars May Get a Ring
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mars must have someone who likes it - scientists believe that in tens of millions of years, Mars will have rings thanks to its innermost moon, Phobos. According to reports, Phobos is moving closer and closer to Mars every year, which indicates that the gravitational pull is increasing. Therefore, some scientists believe that Phobos will collide with Mars. However, others think the moon may become a ring.

"The main factor affecting whether Phobos will crash into Mars or break apart is its strength," Tushar Mittal, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the authors of the new research paper, told "If Phobos is too weak to withstand increasing tidal stresses, then we expect it to break apart."

Phobos is relatively small, measuring only about 15 miles wide and goes around the Red Planet twice in a day. However, it is moving loser by 6.5 feet every century - which means that in 30-50 million years, it could reach the planet.

However, Mittal and report co-author Benjamin Black believe that instead of an impact, the moon will be pulled apart by Martian gravity and will become a ring of sorts thanks to its terrain.

"The moon is probably neither a complete rubble pile, nor completely rigid," Mittal said. "The porosity of Phobos may have helped it survive."

The pair discovered this by simulating the stresses caused by the tidal pull on Mars. This is something that can be a problem for all gas giants.

"Phobos is unique in that it is currently one of only a couple of inwardly evolving moons in our solar system that we know about," Mittal said. "However, since inwardly evolving moons inadvertently self-destruct, it is possible that more inwardly migrating moons may have existed in the past."

Due to the debris that forms the ring, it is likely that it will look different depending on the location of the viewer:

"From one angle, the ring will reflect extra light towards a viewer, and it will look like a bright curve in the sky," Mittal said. "From another angle, the viewer might be in the ring's shadow, and the ring would be a dark curve in the sky."

Unfortunately, none of us will likely be around to see it.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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