What all make up the Saturn rings?Dust, rock and ice constitute the rings. Sizes range from a salt sized particle to a multistorey building. The particles are added to the rings by passing asteroids which shatter into pieces when approaching the planet.
How come the system is stable?The question which entertained me the most. The particles revolving has a greater acceleration due to gravity( denoted by g) compared to earth. g of earth=9.8, g of saturn=10.06 ( both being in m/s 2 ). The reason of stability being their vibration at mean positions. There are many systems in which particles vibrate to decrease their energy and thus stabilise. James Maxwell, in 1859, wrote an essay on the stability of saturn rings. It has detailed calculations justifying stability.
What do we have now?Cassini-Huygens: an unmanned spacecraft providing information of the ringed planet. Its development started in 1980s and was launched on 15 October 1997 and entered the planet's orbit on 1 July 2004. Its design includes a Saturn orbiter (Cassini) and a lander (Huygens) for the moon Titan. The two spacecraft are named after astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christiaan Huygens. Cassini continued to study the Saturn system in the following years, and continues to operate as of 2016, although it is currently going to be destroyed in 2017 by flying into Saturn, thus ending the mission. (Gives me the sense of a soldier).
Written by Prajwal Pitlehra
A 12th pass out with science in my pocket and pen in my hand, I hope to make my place in the world.