Saturn’s rings are disappearing, scientists say

(ORDO NEWS) — The observed “ring rain” process, where planets like Saturn lose their distinctive rings over hundreds of millions of years, is perhaps one of the main things we really know about this mysterious planet and its magnificent decorations.

Although rings around a gaseous planet seem like a permanent feature to us on Earth, analysis of footage from NASA‘s Cassini spacecraft in recent years suggests that they may actually be “cosmically young”, appearing somewhere between 10 and 100 millions of years ago, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth – just a blink of an eye on geological or cosmic time scales.

Scientists still don’t know exactly why Saturn’s rings formed in the first place, the report notes, although the prevailing theory is that if they are as young as they seem, they most likely came about as a result of one of Saturn’s old moons approaching too close to the planet and began to crumble into many space fragments.

The good news is that it will likely take about 300 million years for the rings to disappear.

However, the concept not only that something as seemingly incomprehensible as the rings of Saturn is brand new on a cosmic scale, but that they will one day disappear is, as Japan Space Agency planetary scientist James O’ Donahue in an interview with The Atlantic, “very, very sad.”

However, a JAXA scientist said that there is a positive side to this.

“I’m very happy that we were lucky enough to see them,” he said.


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