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NASA Reports Saturn is Losing its Ring System

Artist illustration of Saturn's ring system | NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CALTECH

Artist illustration of Saturn's ring system | NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CALTECH

NASA just revealed that Saturn’s magnetic field is tearing apart its ring system.

According to a statement released by NASA, Saturn’s famous rings could soon disappear. Information sourced from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, decades ago along with recent observations show that the rings are losing catastrophic amounts of matter.

“We estimate that this ‘ring rain’ drains an amount of water that could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool from Saturn’s rings in half an hour,” James O’Donoghue, a researcher from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said.

At this rate, O’Donoghue claims that the entire ring system of Saturn will be gone in 300 million years. However, if you add the measurement made by the Cassini spacecraft, the rings will only survive for around a hundred million years to live.

Saturn’s Iconic Ring System

Saturn’s ring system is one of the most iconic features of our solar system. No one is entirely sure whether the rings formed together with Saturn or if the planet just acquired them in its later life. However, this most recent study seems to support the latter.

The new study suggests that the rings are probably younger than 100 million years.

The Voyager spacecrafts were the first to identify this decline in Saturns rings.  The data revealed peculiar variations in the planet’s electrically charged ionosphere. They also detected changes in the density variations in the planet’s rings.

Chunks of ice make up most of Saturn’s rings, with size ranging from the microscopic to several meters in length.

“We are lucky to be around to see Saturn’s ring system, which appears to be in the middle of its lifetime,” O’Donoghue went on to say.

“However, if rings are temporary, perhaps we just missed out on seeing giant ring systems of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, which have only thin ringlets today!”

In your opinion, how did Saturn acquire its ring system?

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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