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Mars Might Gain Ring like Saturn, as Phobos Dies

Nov 25, 2015 06:27 PM EST
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While we learned recently that Mars' moon Phobos is slowly going to deteriorate from the pull of gravity on its planet, a University of California Berkeley study has found that the pieces of that moon will then be scattered around Mars to form a ring. Mars will have the look of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus--it will have a ring.

This will inevitably happen in 10-20 million years, say the scientists. The ring will last quite a while, too -- from one million to 100 million years, according to the release from UC Berkeley. The researchers published their findings recently in the journal Nature Geoscience.

As it happens, Mars is pulling differently on varying parts of Phobos. Already the moon is a fractured surface pocked with pores and broken rock. As it falls apart, it will be like jerking apart a granola bar, said postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Black of UC Berkeley in a release.

The largest pieces of Phobos that fall away will circle into the planet and make elliptical craters. Most of the rubble, though, would rotate around the planet for millions of years. Eventually they would fall onto Mars in "moon" showers, which are like meteor showers. Mars would then have one moon left, Deimos, the release confirmed.

"Standing on the surface of Mars a few tens of millions of years from now, it would be pretty spectacular to watch," Black said in the release.

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-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

 

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