A few million years from now, Mars could develop Saturn-like rings

phobos rings around mars 12 stickney crater full
Last week, we brought you news of Phobos’ near certain demise. Now a new study suggests just what the ultimate fate of Mars’ closest moon may be: a Saturn-like ring around The Red Planet that may last for millions of years.

A new study posted Monday in the scientific journal Nature Geosciences predicts that within 20 to 40 million years, Phobos will break apart and start to form a ring with equal density to that of Saturn. The new ring system would last anywhere from a million to 100 million years afterwards before dissipating, they say.

Scientists believe that larger chunks of Phobos will break off as the moon disintegrates and falls to the Martian surface. Mars could be in for an extended period of heavy bombardment as the moon breaks apart as a result, something it and the rest of the solar system has not seen for at least a billion years, if not longer.

While this new paper accelerates the breakup by about 10 million years, it does agree with the previous study’s premise that Phobos is not completely solid. Researchers say analysis of the moon’s composition “suggests that much of Phobos is composed of weak, heavily damaged materials,” accelerating the process.

The continued focus on Phobos and its terminal dance with its host planet may lead to increased pressure to investigate the moon closer. NASA already has a proposed mission in the planning stages that would take a probe to Phobos and Deimos to launch sometime in 2020.

Called PADME (Phobos And Deimos & Mars Environment), one of its stated goals was to determine the origin and composition of both moons. With new questions surrounding Phobos’ eventual fate, researchers might just get the impetus they need to get the go ahead to make the mission a reality.

Scientists in this study already argue that their analysis “underscores the potential orbital and topographic consequences of the growth and self-destruction of other inwardly migrating moons,” and research could lead to a better understand of the life and death sequences of other planetary bodies.

Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Dinosaurs never stood a chance after asteroid impacts doubled 290M years ago

The number of asteroids pummeling Earth jumped dramatically around 290 million years ago. By looking at Moon craters, scientists discovered that d the number of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon increased by two to three times.
Emerging Tech

How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer

The length of Saturn's day has always been a challenge to calculate because of the planet's non-solid surface and magnetic field. But now scientists have tracked vibrations in the rings to pin down a final answer.
Computing

How to share an external hard drive between Mac and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.
Emerging Tech

Scientists successfully grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish

Researchers have managed to grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish for the first time, and even to successfully implant them into live mice. The results could be a game-changer for diabetes.
Emerging Tech

Tiny animals discovered in Antarctic lake deep beneath the ice

Scientists have made a surprising discovery in Antarctica: the carcasses of tiny animals including crustaceans and a tardigrade were found in a lake that sits deep beneath over half a mile of Antarctic ice.
Emerging Tech

Google plots radar-sensing tech that could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.