A defining characteristic of Mars is it red color, but that may not be its only claim to fame in the future. Scientists believe the planet will feature rings—a feature the Martian planet may have had over 4 billion years ago.
Apparently, an asteroid or other body slammed into the Red Planet around 4.3 billion years ago, sending debris into space. The debris then formed a planetary ring, which then clumped together to form a moon.
Scientists believe once the ring formed, debris slowly began collecting into a moon, and once the Roche limit was reached, broke apart once again. It’s thought Mars’ moon, Phobos, will break apart once it reaches the Roche limit, “and become a set of rings in roughly 70 million years,” NASA said.
Put a ring on it
In the past 4 billion or so years, scientists believe this has occurred three to seven times, with each time resulting in a smaller moon.
“Each time a moon broke apart and reformed from the resulting ring, its successor moon would be five times smaller than the last, according to the model, and debris would have rained down on the planet, possibly explaining enigmatic sedimentary deposits found near Mars’ equator,” NASA said.
A similar study was released back in 2015, which claimed once Phobos broke apart it would form a ring around Mars.
None of us will be around to see Phobos eventually form a ring around Mars, but it’s looking more likely to happen. Once it does, it’ll continue its cycle until, eventually, Phobos may not exist at all. Either way, it’ll sure be a sight for future Mars colonizers.