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Disintegration Of Martian Moons Could Lead To Saturn-Like Rings Around The Red Planet

First Posted: Feb 24, 2017 02:58 AM EST
Phobos
Mars' moon, Phobos, is now disintegrating as it pulled closer to Mars. Its debris could form into future rings around the planet, according to scientists.
(Photo : GeoBeats News/YouTube screenshot)

Scientists discovered that Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos, are slowly disintegrating or being chipped away as they are pulled closer to Mars. Their leftover debris or dust could contribute to the forming of Mars' future rings.

The findings of the discovery were printed in the journal Icarus. It was led by researchers from India's Physical Research Laboratory. The team found that massive particles hover around Mars as seen in the images sent back by NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) in 2013. Meanwhile, the solar winds are dragging the small particles that could lead to Saturn-like rings around the Red Planet, according to Express.

The team speculates that about 0.6 percent of the dust is formed by the moons. This will significantly increase as years pass by. Currently, the moons' orbit is reduced by 2 meters (6.5 feet) every century that could lead to an end of the satellite.

The moon Phobos will collide into the surface of Mars. Its pieces of rock and dust will be pulled into a long orbit around Mars as the moon fractures and will shape into a ring, according to Science Alert.

Meanwhile, the researchers from MAVEN are not fully convinced. Laila Andersson, the MAVEN investigator, said that there was no indication of an increase in dust in the orbits or vicinity of Phobos and Deimos. She further said that to truly say anything definitive about the dust, one really needs to have a dedicated dust detector.

"We still haven't seen a good indication that there is significant material in the vicinity of the moons. So, I think it's a long shot," said Andersson. On the other hand, she added one should never say never.

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