Friday, 1 April 2011

NASA publish new information about the Rings of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter ring system (Image credit NASA)
NASA scientists working with new data from the Cassini, Galileo and New Horizons missions have matched ‘ripples’ in the rings around Saturn and Jupiter's with collisions with comets.

Comets colliding with rings

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 passed through Jupiter’s rings in July 1994 and Saturn's rings were distorted by comet debris in 1983.  The collision tilted a region more than 12,000 miles (19,000 kilometers) wide, covering part of the D ring and the next outermost ring, called the C ring. Unfortunately, spacecraft were not visiting Saturn at that time and the event was on the far side of the sun out of range of space-based telescopes.

Dr Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said "Finding these fingerprints still in the rings is amazing and helps us better understand impact processes in our solar system," said Calif. "Cassini's long sojourn around Saturn has helped us tease out subtle clues that tell us about the history of our origins."

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