If you had to identify Saturn out of a crowd, you’d most likely know it by its famous rings. They are our solar system’s largest and brightest rings. Extending over 280,000 kilometres from the planet and wide enough to fit six Earths in a row. Saturn won’t look like this for long now. Because its rings are vanishing.
That’s correct, Saturn’s rings are disappearing! And fast. Much quicker, in fact, than researchers had anticipated. Saturn is now receiving 10,000 kg of ring rain each second. Fast enough to fill an Olympic-sized pool in under 30 minutes.
This rain is made up of the shattered fragments of Saturn’s rings. Saturn’s rings are largely made up of ice and rock fragments. Which are constantly bombarded: some by UV light from the Sun, while others by small meteoroids.
When the frozen particles collide, they evaporate, generating charged water molecules that interact with Saturn’s magnetic field before falling into Saturn and burning up in the atmosphere.
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