Mars Could One Day Have a Ring Like Saturn


Earlier in the month, we wrote about how the structural failure of Mars’ innermost moon, Phobos, may lead to its eventual destruction. Now research published in Nature Geoscience is suggesting that when Mars loses its largest moon, it could possibly gain a ring system similar to the one circling Saturn [PDF].

The chances of the moon Phobos disintegrating into a ring of debris around the red planet hinge on the satellite’s strength. The force of Mars' gravity is currently dragging the largest of its two moons towards it at a rate of 6.6 feet every 100 years. At that speed, the two bodies are set to collide in 30 to 50 million years or so, but some experts believe the moon won’t last that long. Phobos, which is likely composed of porous, heavily damaged rock, may instead be slowly taken apart by the planet’s gravity over the course of 20 to 40 million years. If that's the case, Mars will end up with a nifty new ring system made from the moon’s remains.


The ring would initially be similar to Saturn's rings in terms of density, but as Mars continued to pull in debris from its orbit, the ring would eventually thin out. (Such rings in our solar system are generally composed of space debris and, possibly, destroyed moons.) As for what a Martian ring would look like, it all depends on your point of view. From the surface of Mars, you'd see a curved ring that looked either light (if the ring was reflecting extra light towards you) or dark (if you were standing in the ring's shadow). Either view could be dramatic for any Earthlings who might visit Mars in the future. They’ll just need to make sure they set up camp far away from the equator, as incoming ring particles could prove to be problematic. 

[h/t: Scientific American]

A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.


More from mental floss studios