Groundbreaking Saturn discoveries have been published in research journals this week, following the end of the NASA Cassini spacecraft which has been orbiting Saturn.
The NASA Cassini spacecraft
Saturn’s magnetic field: the latest discoveries
The latest data from the Cassini mission has revealed more structure in Saturn’s magnetic field. The Cassini mission aimed to measure the miscropic material of Saturn’s rings. To do this, the Cassini had to undertake risky manouevres to travel at 75,000 miles per hour underneath Saturn’s rings. Discussing the mission to analyse Saturn’s rings. Sascha Kempf, a research associate and associate physics professor at LASP said: “This is the first time that pieces from Saturn’s rings have been analyzed with a human-made instrument.”
The results showed that during eight orbits, the Cosmic Dust Analyzer caught over 2,700 charged bits of dust. The researchers calculated that this would create enough ring rain to send approximately one metric ton of material into the atmosphere of Saturn per second.They believe that the particles got there by moving along the magnetic field of Saturn like a yo-yo before colliding into Saturn’s atmosphere.
They also discovered that most of the particles were made up of water ice, as well as tiny silicates which make up many space rocks. This may lead to answering the question of how old Saturn’s rings are.
The formation of the magnetic field remains a mystery.