Saturn will "lose" all its rings in 2025: NASA explained what is happening

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Saturn's rings will not be visible in 2025

On March 25, 2025, the second-largest planet in the Solar System, Saturn, will lose its giant rings, the sight of which is so fascinating to Earth's astronomers and astrophotographers. But do not panic: we will not witness any large-scale space disaster. Saturn's rings will "grow" again in the coming years.

OBOZ.UA tells what kind of miracle will happen to the giant planet and why it happens regularly.

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest in our system. It is second only to Jupiter in size and 95 times more massive than the Earth.

The most famous feature of Saturn is its giant rings. NASA believes that, unlike our solar system, which is approximately 4.6 billion years old, these structures are relatively young: they are probably only a few hundred million years old.

Saturn's rings are fragments of comets and asteroids that were torn apart by the powerful gravity of the giant planet and remained in its orbit. They consist of billions of small pieces of ice and stone covered with other materials such as dust.

Saturn's ring system has a diameter of up to 282,000 kilometers. However, their height is not so significant as the main rings in most places are less than 100 meters thick.

And this thickness is one of the factors why Saturn's rings disappear from time to time.

As you know, due to the inclination of its orbit, Saturn slightly wobbles towards and away from the Sun during its orbital rotations. As a result, every 13.7-15.7 years, the Earth and Saturn find themselves at a point where the rings appear flat and almost invisible. And although it may seem that they have completely disappeared, they continue to exist.

The next moment of "disappearance" will occur on March 25, 2025. From then on, the rings will have disappeared, and then, as Saturn rotates, they will become more and more visible again until 2032 when Saturn reaches its maximum inclination to the Earth and the rings can be seen in all their glory.

Saturn's rings

However, scientists believe that Saturn's rings will indeed disappear eventually at some point in space history. It is known that the planet is slowly losing its rings even now, and it is happening even faster than experts had imagined.

Thus, every second, 10,000 kg of rocks and ice from the rings fall to Saturn. The destruction is caused by collisions with meteorites and the Sun's ultraviolet radiation.

The Sun's influence causes the ice particles in the rings to evaporate, forming charged water molecules that interact with Saturn's magnetic field and, falling to the planet, burn in the atmosphere.

The process of ring decay became known to NASA scientists back in the 1980s thanks to the Voyager mission. At the time, it was believed that the process could take 300 million years, but data from the Cassini spacecraft, which studied the planet and the rings from 2004 to 2017, showed that it would happen much faster.

The new forecast of scientists gives the rings no more than 100 million years of life.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that something that astronomers have never seen in the Solar System is happening on Saturn.

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