NASA’s Cassini spacecraft-analysis on gravity science data from Saturn’s rings shows the rings are younger than the planet.
It is estimated that the rings have an age range of 10 to 100 million years,whereas the planet Saturn formed 4.5 billion years ago, in the early years of our solar system.
There have been clues that its ring system is a young upstart that attached to Saturn years afterward and perhaps formed due to the collision the planets moons or the comet which shattered nearby the planet.
The observations lead astronomers towards a new turn when the Cassini, an unmanned US-European probe that launched in 1997 and ended in 2017 with a planned death plunge into Saturn’s surface.
The dive allowed the spacecraft to act as a probe, falling into Saturn’s gravity field, where it could feel the tug of the planet and the rings.During the final stage of the mission, the spacecraft made 22 orbits around the planet interrupting the flight path of the spacecraft and thereby the astronomers were made available with details of the gravity of the rings its approximate mass and age.
“Only by getting so close to Saturn in Cassini’s final orbits were we able to gather the measurements to make the new discoveries,” said Cassini radio science team member and lead author Luciano Iess, of Sapienza University of Rome.