Mars is Going to Lose Its Largest Moon and Gain a Ring

By: | December 4th, 2015

Image by Tushar Mittal using Celestia 2001-2010, Celestia Development Team.

According to NASA, Mars’ largest moon, Phobos, is moving inward towards the planet. Phobos will eventually be torn apart and distributed in a ring around Mars just like those encircling Saturn and Jupiter.

As per scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, the demise of Phobos is not about to happen soon. It will probably happen in 20 to 40 million years, and rings so formed will persist for anywhere from one million to 100 million years.

Why the moon is being torn apart: Just as there is a mutual attraction between the moon and Earth, which results in the raising of tides in the oceans, similarly, Mars also pulls different parts of Phobos. These tugs are in fact strong enough to pull the moon apart and will eventually lead to the demise of the planet’s largest moon.

Formation of rings: After the breakup, resulting rubble in the form of rocks and dust would continue to orbit Mars and form rings around the planet. The majority of the debris in the rings would circle the planet for millions of years until these pieces, too, fall toward the planet and burn up as ‘moon showers.’

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

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