back to article You're 3 billion years too late to see Mars' impressive ring system. The next one will be along in 40 million years or so

Like the gas giants in the outer region of the Solar System, Mars may have been circled by a ring of debris over three billion years ago. Astronomers from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have spotted tantalizing signs that the red, rocky planet once supported a ring system. The clues lie in its two potato-shaped moons …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Angel

    Interesting

    There have been discussions about the oddities of the Mars moons for years now, this suggests that we may have finally got to grips with the data - as you can see, I have a small moon orbiting my icon...

    1. Youngone

      Re: Interesting

      They hope to test their theory over the next few years... by smashing a couple of moons together to see what happens.

      (A man can dream can't he)?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, an I thought Wagner's Ring Cycle was long.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Wagner? Didn't he write the immortal lyrics: 'Cause if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it?

  3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Alien

    Many SF books

    ...have used the odd orbit and size of Mars' moons, especially Deimos, as story lines or plot points because "hey! That's no moon, it's an alien spaceship/space station/monitoring device/stargate/early warning system" (and people thought that was a new trope invented for the johnny-come-lately Star Wars film.)

  4. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

    Probably no relationship, but isn't 3 billion years ago when Mars lost its water?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      There is still water on Mars. Seems like most of it is trapped in the south polar ice cap, but more has been discovered under the surface in the Utopia Planitia region (wherever that is).

      That said, when Mars lost most of its atmosphere and it dropped to the 1% density it has today, all surface water that wasn't frozen simply boiled off and was swept away by the Sun's wind. I have trouble finding a reference as to when that happened exactly.

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Trollface

    Shocked, shocked I tell you...

    I thought Mars and rings were only encountered in A&E.

  6. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Alien

    Silly Humans

    Like you we used to have our own Space Ships for Mysteron TV and the Mysteron Sports Channel, we have since progressed to where we don't need them.

  7. Mystic Megabyte

    Serious question

    Why are there flat rings, instead of a doughnut shaped cloud of debris?

    1. dvhamme

      Re: Serious question

      I think in the general case, the spinning of the planet causes it to become an ellipsoid (it bulges at the equator and shrinks in pole-to-pole distance). This causes an asymmetrical gravitation field; debris are not pulled towards the exact center of gravity of the planet, but towards the equator because that bulge is closer. Thus all particles are gradually pulled into the equatorial plane, where they form a very thin disk.

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