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Martian moons may have once formed rings

Posted on Wednesday, 3 June, 2020 | Comment icon 8 comments

Were the moons of Mars once the rings of Mars ? Image Credit: NASA
An increasing body of evidence suggests that Mars may have once had its own spectacular ring system.
When it comes to planets with rings, the first thing most people think of is Saturn. As it happens however, the gas giant is not alone in this regard - there are several other bodies in our solar system with rings including Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, as well as several minor planets and other objects.

A few years ago, scientists theorized that another planet - Mars - may have also once had rings.

Now it turns out that, not only is this highly likely to be true, but that the moons of Mars - Phobos and Deimos - may literally be the culmination of these rings coalescing into solid bodies.
While Phobos had been studied before with this in mind, a recent re-analysis of Deimos - and in particular its strange tilted orbit - has raised the possibility that the formation and loss of rings around Mars may have actually happened several times before.

Phobos, for instance, is slowly moving closer to Mars and will eventually be torn apart by its gravitational pull. When this happens, the debris could form a new ring system.

This ring would then, in turn, form a new moon and so the cycle would repeat.

"The fact that Deimos's orbit is not exactly in plane with Mars's equator was considered unimportant, and nobody cared to try to explain it," said SETI astronomer Matija Cuk. "But once we had a big new idea and we looked at it with new eyes, Deimos's orbital tilt revealed its big secret."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (8)

Tags: Mars

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by OverSword on 3 June, 2020, 16:58
Interesting theory.
Comment icon #2 Posted by DreadLordAvatar on 3 June, 2020, 18:31
Because of the time scale, anything is possible.  Like how Mars was once a moon of  Earth....both planets flourished for eons until the martians lost the war ...and the planet lost orbit and has settled to where it remains today.  It’s a valid theory like this article.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 June, 2020, 22:09
It's not a valid theory like the article as it has no supporting evidence, and, in fact, contradicts the observed evidence. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by XenoFish on 3 June, 2020, 22:16
I wonder if all the impact craters on Mars surface are due to the cycle that was mentioned. (if I was reading it right, no promises)
Comment icon #5 Posted by bison on 4 June, 2020, 0:10
Both the asteroid capture and conventional formed-in-place explanations for Mars' moons seem unsatisfactory. The moons both orbit very close to the planet's equator, in nearly circular orbits, which would be highly unlikely if they were asteroids, coming in at random. Even asteroids from close to the ecliptic place of the solar system would probably end up at with higher  inclinations to the equator, since Mars' equator is inclined 25 degrees to the ecliptic.  If Mars' moons simply formed in place, one wonder why they should orbit the Red Planet substantially faster than the planet rotates.The... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by micahc on 4 June, 2020, 0:51
mars is flat.
Comment icon #7 Posted by jethrofloyd on 4 June, 2020, 5:39
In fact, we are living in the Flat Solar System.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Emma_Acid on 4 June, 2020, 9:26
You need to look up the definitions of "valid theory" and "science fiction"

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