Why It's Raining On Saturn

According to a new study published in this week's Nature, icy particles inside the rings erode into the upper atmosphere and eventually form rain water that falls on parts of the planet.

What's the Latest Development?


With the help of super-clear images from Hawaii's Keck Observatory, scientists from the UK and the US have found a connection between some of the icier parts of Saturn's rings and darker regions on the planet's surface. That connection appears to be rain. Magnetic field lines linking the two areas "creates a pathway for small ice particles in the rings to slough off into the planet's atmosphere," resulting in rain. The details of the team's research appear in this week's issue of Nature.

What's the Big Idea?

Most of what makes up Saturn's rings are small boulders, but the way in which the rings have evolved has never been fully determined. Astrophysicist Jack Connerney writes in Nature that, over time, "[m]ass is transferred from one boulder to next, and while it's transferred, [the particles are] vulnerable to erosion mechanisms." This helps explain how those parts of the rings that are made up of ice eventually erode into particles that fall to the surface as rain. The magnetic field responsible for the rain may also contribute to the density and composition of each ring.

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

Read it at Space.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.