Mars' Moons May Be Creating Rings Around The Planet

Posted: Feb 22 2017, 12:41am CST | by , Updated: Feb 22 2017, 1:09am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Mars' Moon may be Creating Rings around the Planet
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

New research suggests that debris from two of the Mars moons might already be building rings around the planet

Data from NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) has found the first possible evidence of the development of rings around Mars.

Researchers suggest that Mars moons are shredding into pieces as they are spiraling dangerously close to their home planet and these fragments would likely clump together to form rings around the planet. If that happens, Mars will become the only planet in inner solar system to sport a ring.

Scientists have speculated for many years that one day Mars will get its own ring like the one seen around Saturn. As Mars moons Phobos and Deimos are drawing closer to the planet by its gravity, they are becoming unstable and will eventually break apart. Then, those broken pieces would form rings around the planet.

Researchers initially estimated that it will probably happen in 20 to 40 million years. But now, it appears that the process might already have begun. New research suggests that at least some of the dust particles eincirling the planet came from one or both of its biggest moons.

“The dust particles whose paths are altered by the solar wind over its lifetime, could present a second plausible source of dust around Mars. We have investigated escaping particles from natural satellites of Mars and compared with the interplanetary dust flux estimation. It has been found that flux rate at Mars is dominated by interplanetary particles in comparison with the satellite originated dust.” Researchers from Physical Research Laboratory in India wrote in the study.

However, researchers are still not sure whether these particles are big enough to form rings around the Mars. Most of the dust that floats around the planet is composed of tiny particles and these kind of particles are typically carried away be the solar wind. Only the bigger shred will remain in orbit and will create a ring like those encircling Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

“The bigger ring particles can reach Mars over a period of time, in addition to the interplanetary dust particles.” Study researcher Jayesh Pabari told New Scientist.

It will not be possible to determine if such activity is truly occurring until a probe is sent to Mars that is capable of fully analyzing material in the dust around it.

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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