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Does Mars Have Any Rings?



Mars does NOT have any rings.

More Info: Based on our current knowledge, Mars does not have any rings. In fact, none of the rocky inner planets in our solar system has rings. Saturn has the most prominent rings, but astronomers have discovered rings around all the gas giants, including Jupiter.

Planetary Rings

It’s no coincidence that the largest planets have rings, while the smaller planets do not. Scientists believe the crucial element in the formation of planetary rings is a strong gravitation field. All planets have a gravitational zone called the Roche limit: any object which wanders within this limit is torn apart by gravity and the tidal forces of the planet’s rotation. Although this tidal zone exists around all the planets, only the gas planets have a Roche limit large enough to maintain rings. All the outer gas planets have rings, but Saturn’s are the most visually stunning because they are composed mostly of small ice particles, which reflect light well. The rings around Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are much thinner and rocky.

Future Rings of Mars

Mars is orbited by two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregular in shape, indicating that they may be captured asteroids. Astronomers know that Phobos is slowly spiraling inward towards Mars. Sometime in the next 50 million years, Phobos will either collide with Mars or disintegrate to form a rocky ring around Mars. Also, scientists have not ruled out the existence of dust rings trailing in the wake of Phobos and Deimos. However, these rings would be incredibly faint, and to date no such rings have been discovered.



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“Jet Propulsion Laboratory.” Cassini Solstice Mission: Frequently Asked Questions. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

“Solar System Exploration: : Planets.” Solar System Exploration: : Planets. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

“ Astro-ph ArXiv:1112.3305.” [1112.3305] Planetary Rings. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

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