But they are raining so much water onto the planet that in 300 million years they could rain themselves nearly out of existence, leaving Saturn startlingly ringless. ‘It is possible, in the age of the dinosaurs, that Saturn’s rings were even larger and brighter than we see them today. How three UK businesses are preparing to transition out of the EU, Donald Trump declares coronavirus pandemic is ‘ending’ despite cases soaring in US, Bodies of ‘dad and two sons’ found after shooting at farmhouse, 100,000 Californians told to evacuate as raging wildfires return. “Saturn’s rings appear to be young,” said Linda Spilker of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, project scientist for the Cassini mission that studied Saturn, who was not involved in the study. First published on August 6, 2019 / 12:22 PM. Saturn is losing its rings, through a process called ring rain, faster than scientists realized. Be in the know. All good rings must come to an end, say NASA scientists who theorize that Saturn’s famed feature will disappear in millions of years. © 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Spacespecialists website has been updated to become fully compliant with the GDPR act 2018. Saturn could be losing its iconic rings as an Olympic swimming pool amount of water drains from them every half an hour. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Estimating that the ‘ring rain’ drains an Olympic swimming pool of water every 30 minutes, the research team found that the ice circles are dying at the maximum rate estimated from observations made decades ago. By using this site or closing this you agree to our Cookies Policy. In 1610, Galileo first observed the rings of Saturn, which he saw as moons on either side of the planet because of his small telescope. Better start saying your goodbyes. What time is Nasa's moon announcement today and what are they likely to say? “We used to think the ring system was fixed and would always look the same,” said Henry Throop, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Washington, D.C., who was not involved with the study. How we test gear. But, he added, “it doesn’t mean that if you come back, there would just be nothing there.” The rate at which the rings might waste away depends not only on how much material is still in the rings, but on other physical forces, Saturn’s shifting seasons and the way in which ring material is replenished. Nasa moon discovery: What does finding water on the moon actually mean? O’Donoghue and his colleagues plan to conduct follow-up observations to see if the erosion of the rings is affected by seasonal changes. But they’re so thin that during Saturn’s equinoxes, when the light from the Sun hits the rings straight on, they all but disappear when viewed from the Earth. How do I vote in my state in the 2020 election? However, the Cassini spacecraft also detected even more ring matter was falling into Saturn's equator. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io, Watch a Spacecraft Punch an Asteroid Tonight, The Truth About That Election Day Asteroid, BepiColombo Just Snapped Awesome Photos of Venus, Venus Is a Russian Planet ... Says Russia, Possible Signs of Life Found in Venus Atmosphere, Asteroid Swings by Earth in Closest Recorded Flyby, Our Solar System Is Shaped Like a Croissant, Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight and Tomorrow, No, Trump Didn't Bring NASA Back from the Dead, NASA Is About to Study Some Awfully Old Asteroids. Saturn’s iconic belt stretches 175,000 miles across and mostly consists of icy chunks, ranging from teeny tiny to boulder size. Before Cassini took a fiery, fatal plunge into Saturn in September 2017, it completed a daring series of loops between the planet and its rings.
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