Will Mars Share Saturn’s Planetary Rings Appearance?

planetary ringsMars could have in the future a set of rings surrounding it, in a similar way to Saturn’s notorious belt of rocks, as new studies suggest. Over some millions of years, our neighboring planet could completely destroy its closest celestial satellite, Phobos, and create a massive ring of rock and dust, according to these recent reports. Phobos is getting nearer to Mars as time passes, meaning that the Red Planet’s gravitational forces exerted on its moon are constantly growing.

Some researchers have assumed that the satellite will ultimately crush into Mars, but new studies indicate that the tiny Phobos may disintegrate before its time. The primary factor influencing whether the moon will collide into the planet or break into many pieces of various sizes is represented by its strength to resists to the enormous cosmic forces, according to the astronomers who analyzed the situation in their experiments.

If the satellite is very weak to face increasing tidal pressures, then experts expect the moon to be ripped over time. The bigger and inner celestial satellite, Phobos, is just around 15 miles in diameter and is orbiting rather fast around Mars. The small space object is gradually moving towards the Red Planet, getting nearer to its host by 6 feet every century. This deviation could lead to an impressive crash into Mars in the next 30 to 45 million years, as past studies have revealed.

But after replicating the physical pressures that the planet puts onto its small moon, some specialists predict a different destiny for Phobos. These studies indicate that instead of ending in just one, tremendous collapse, the celestial satellite will be ripped apart by Mars’ huge gravitational forces.

On our planet, the gravitational attraction exerted by the Moon generates the increasing and decreasing levels of water tides. Even if the satellite does not have water, Terra’s gravitational forces are still called tidal forces by geologists. Phobos, along with all the other satellites in our solar system, is shaped by the tidal pressure from its planet. Astronomers have analyzed the endurance of Mars’ moon, testing features like structure and solidity, in order to measure to how much pressure such a small space object could resist to.

After indirectly evaluating it thanks to various meteorites found on Earth’s surface, they determined that Phobos nowadays is formed from permeable, intensely broken stone and has probably the same composition throughout its internal structure. However, the probes that are planned to be launched in the next years will offer a better image about these unanswered questions.

Image source: Cbsistatic