An evolving view of Saturn’s dynamic rings
We review our understanding of Saturn’s rings after nearly 6 years of observations by the Cassini spacecraft. Saturn’s rings are composed mostly of water ice but also contain an undetermined reddish contaminant. The rings exhibit a range of structure across many spatial scales; some of this involves the interplay of the fluid nature and the self-gravity of innumerable orbiting centimeter- to meter-sized particles, and the effects of several peripheral and embedded moonlets, but much remains unexplained. A few aspects of ring structure change on time scales as short as days. It remains unclear whether the vigorous evolutionary processes to which the rings are subject imply a much younger age than that of the solar system. Processes on view at Saturn have parallels in circumstellar disks.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||An evolving view of Saturn’s dynamic rings|
|Publisher||American Association for the Advancement of Science|
|Contributing office(s)||Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center|