It is now official that Saturn is losing its rings, and it does so much faster

It is now official that Saturn is losing its rings, and it does so much faster

Extending more than 280,000 km from Saturn, its rings are wide enough to accommodate 6 Earths in a row. But Saturn won’t always look this way, because its rings are disappearing.

Also, you are doing it much faster than you had originally thought. Right now, you are losing 10,000 kilograms per second . Fast enough to fill a lap pool in half an hour.


Saturn’s rings are made up mostly of chunks of ice and rock. And they continually receive ultraviolet radiation from the Sun and the impact of small meteorites. When these collisions take place, the icy particles vaporize, forming charged water molecules that interact with Saturn’s magnetic field; finally, they fall towards Saturn, where they burn up in the atmosphere .

This phenomenon, this sort of rain of Saturn’s rings, has been known since the 1980s, when NASA’s Voyager mission recorded the event. Back then, researchers estimated that the rings would be depleted in 300 million years.

However, observations from NASA’s former Cassini spacecraft give a more pessimistic forecast. The new observations have allowed estimating that the rings only had 100 million years of life left .

It won’t be that strange either: Saturn, for most of its life, has had no rings – it has had them for about 200 million years. That is, if some dinosaurs had been able to examine Saturn through a telescope, they would have seen it naked, like Earth.

The rings of Saturn are a system of 6 rings, planetary rings that surround that planet and were observed for the first time in July 1610 by Galileo Galilei . Saturn’s rings may have formed when a huge moon with an icy mantle and rocky core slammed into the rising planet.