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Saturn s Ancient Rings
<< Yesterday 17.12.2007 Tomorrow >>
Saturn s Ancient Rings
Credit & Copyright: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
Explanation: How old are Saturn's rings? No one is quite sure. One possibility is that the rings formed relatively recently in our Solar System's history, perhaps only about 100 million years ago when a moon-sized object broke up near Saturn. Evidence for a young ring age includes a basic stability analysis for rings, and the fact that the rings are so bright and relatively unaffected by numerous small dark meteor impacts. New evidence, however, raises the possibility that some of Saturn's rings may be billions of years old and so almost as old as Saturn itself. Inspection of images by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft indicates that some of Saturn's ring particles temporarily bunch and collide, effectively recycling ring particles by bringing fresh bright ices to the surface. Seen here, Saturn's rings were imaged in their true colors by the robotic Cassini in late October. Icy bright Tethys, a moon of Saturn likely brightened by a sandblasting rain of ice from sister moon Enceladus, is visible in front of the darker rings.

APOD presents: Astronomy Pictures of the Year for 2007

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.

Russkii tekst
Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day
Publikacii s klyuchevymi slovami: Saturn - Tethys - Saturn rings - Saturn - kol'ca Saturna - Tefiya
Publikacii so slovami: Saturn - Tethys - Saturn rings - Saturn - kol'ca Saturna - Tefiya
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