Saturn's spectacular rings are 'very young'

Rainfall detected on Saturn's moon Titan

Image courtesy Pixabay

The material in the rings weighs about 40% of Saturn's moon Mimas.

This monochrome view is the last image taken by the imaging cameras on NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The signals were transmitted during the mission's final orbits around Saturn and have also revealed startling details about the unseen interior of the planet.

This is nowhere almost as easy as it sounds-and bear in mind we're talking about measuring the position of a space probe tumbling into the atmosphere of another planet hundreds of millions of miles away-because Saturn's air currents were buffeting Cassini around at the same time.

Saturn rings were discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, who considered their three major satellites.

Saturn is believed to have come into existence about 4.5 billion years ago.

At the end of its mission, Cassini made a series of dives between the rings and Saturn itself.

Analyzing the data, scientists realized that the rings are younger than Saturn, which formed nearly 4.5 billion years ago when all the planets in our solar system began forming.

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Cassini's mission ended in September 2017 when, low on fuel, the spacecraft was deliberately plunged into Saturn's atmosphere by the mission team, which wanted to avoid crashing the craft onto the planet's moons.

The gravitational field measurements were different to what scientists expected. Researchers were able to determine that the inner layers of Saturn's thick gaseous atmosphere rotate more slowly than the outer layers. Scientists think a passing comet might have wandered too close to Saturn and been ripped up by its huge gravitational pull, but that's still just a hypothesis for now.

Arguably the most elegantly handsome planet in the solar system today, Saturn may've been a far less remarkable pale dot, without its trademark rings, not that long ago. This is far, far later than the when Saturn itself first formed-around 4.2 billion years ago-and means the planet's iconic feature probably only appeared after the dinosaurs went extinct around 65 million years ago. Made up of heavy elements, the team found that the planet's core is about 15 to 18 Earth masses, or 15 percent of the total mass of the planet.

The prevalence of dust storms and strong winds on Titan implies that the underlying sand can be moved as well and that the "giant dunes" that cover the moon's equatorial regions are constantly changing and still active.

Saturn's moon is the second largest in the entire solar system and is home to surface liquid and dust storms, which leaves some scientists to theorize that it could be home to alien life.

"They used the rings to peer into Saturn's interior, and out popped this long-sought, fundamental quality of the planet". These flights have helped m & m Militzer & his colleagues to measure the structure of the gravitational field of the planet and begin measurements of the mass of the rings. This enabled the mission team to measure the mass and the gravity of both Saturn and the rings. They can do this by comparing the mass of the rings and the mass of the bright, visible components. Researchers said these likely formed around the age of the dinosaurs.

Now, while these results reveal the age of Saturn's rings, they do not explain how or why the rings formed so recently.

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