Academic journal article Science and Children

Mars Could Have Rings One Day

Academic journal article Science and Children

Mars Could Have Rings One Day

Article excerpt

One of our closest celestial neighbors had rings at one point--and may have them again someday.

This theory suggests that debris was pushed into space from an asteroid or other body that slammed into Mars around 4.3 billion years ago. The debris then alternates between becoming a planetary ring and clumping up to form a moon. It's thought that the asteroid impact created Mars's large North Polar Basin, or Borealis Basin, which covers about 40% of the planet's northern hemisphere.

"That large impact would have blasted enough material off the surface of Mars to form a ring," says coauthor Andrew Hesselbrock, whose model suggests that the debris began to clump and eventually formed a moon. Over time, Mars's gravitational pull would have pulled that moon toward the planet until it reached the Roche limit, the distance within which the planet's tidal forces will break apart a celestial body that is held together only by gravity.

Phobos, one of Mars's moons, is getting closer to the planet. …

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