What Do You Know about Saturn’s Rings?

Saturn's Rings
The attenuation of 0.94-, 3.6-, and 13-centimeter signals sent by Cassini through the rings to Earth shows abundance of particles in the rings of Saturn

Our universe is full of surprises and it’s an absolutely divine work of art. There’s a lot we, the petty humans have already discovered about this grand realm – and one out of that overflowing trove of information is the fact that Saturn has rings surrounding its circumference.

Now how is that fair? Earth gets water and Saturn gets RINGS!

Not that we’re not grateful for the water, but if Earth wanted rings too just what could it do to get those?

Here’s all you need to know about the Saturn Rings:

It was Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian astronomer who first discovered the Saturn Rings back in 1610 – he thought they resembled arms or handles! Unfortunately, Galilei’s telescope wasn’t powerful enough to figure out what they were exactly. Enter comes Christiaan Huygens – the Dutch astronomer who declared that they were actually a flat, thin ring.

Later, with the advent of more powerful telescopes it became evident that Saturn wasn’t just surrounded by one thin, flat ring. In fact, there were many. The largest one out of those was estimated to be around two hundred times the size of the planet’s own diameter which is approximately, 116,464 kilometers. 

These rings are alphabetically in the order of their discovery. Most of these rings are generally not more than thirty feet in thickness. There are four core rings that work out from the planet itself. They are named D, C, B, and A. The innermost ring D is the faintest and the outermost is big enough to house a billion Earths! No, we’re not kidding.

Most of the fainter rings were discovered with the improvement in the telescopes with technological advances. It was Voyager 1 – the NASA space probe launched in 1977 that discovered the Ring D back in 1980. After Ring A is the Ring F, followed by ring G and E.

The rings are separated by gaps and structures. While some gaps are justified by the presence of the smaller moons of Saturn, others still have the astronomers confused. These rings are all typically quite close to each other; however the rings B and A are separated by the Cassini Division – a span of 4,700 kilometers.

Did you know that Saturn is not the only planet with rings? Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter also have rings! However, their rings aren’t so much visible because they do not have the moon span of 282,000 kilometers.

So what exactly are these rings made of?

Astronomers and scientists reveal that the rings surrounding Saturn are made up of particles. These particles range in size – some as small as grain and others as big as the size of the mountains. Most of these particles are made of ice – yes water-ice!

It is the rings that draw in particles floating in outer space and at times these particles are rocky meteoroids too.

Still wondering if rings composed of ice particles amount to the presence of water on and/or around the planet. What do you think?


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