According to the findings of a new study, Mars might one day develop rings like the famous halo of Saturn. That’s not all; in hundreds of thousands of years in the future, we might see the Red Planet completely destroying Phobos, its innermost moon, and that would be the reason behind the formation of the ring. The crushed moon will turn into a ring formed of rocky debris.
Evidence collected by scientists suggests that Phobos is gradually moving closer to the Red Planet. This means Mars’ gravitational pull towards its innermost satellite is increasing slowly. Some scientists are saying that as the gravitational pull will keep on increasing, it is possible that one day Phobos will collide with the planet. However, this new study is indicating that the moon might not be alive that long.
The University of California, Berkley’s graduate student Tushar Mittal, who happens to be one of the coauthors of the new study, said that the factor playing the key role in deciding whether Phobos will collide with Mars or break apart before reaching the planet is the satellite’s strength. He added that if it turns out that the moon is too weak for withstanding the immense tidal stresses it has been subject to, it will probably get crushed before reaching the Red Planet.
For those who don’t know, here’s a piece of information: the names Deimos and Phobos (names of two satellites Mars has) have been derived from the names of children of Greek God Ares. Phobos sets and rises twice every Martian day and has a width of around 22 km or 14 miles.
The tiny satellite (although it is bigger of the two satellites the red Planet has) is moving in the direction of its host planet pretty slowly. Recently obtained statistics suggest that it is covering a distance of around 2 meters or 6.5 ft every century. This speed of the moon suggests that it will take a minimum of 30 to 50 million years for reaching the Red Planet.
Mittal and his co-researcher Benjamin Black, however, feel that Phobos will have a different fate. They believe that the moon will not be destroyed due to the collision; according to them, Martian gravity will pull it apart.