In 1610 astronomer named Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) watched the night skies with his telescope and saw the beautiful rings of Saturn.
While observing the rings of this magnificent planet he became curious and wanted to know more about their nature. Unfortunately, the simplicity of his telescope prevented him to determine what the rings were.
That was over 400 years ago and today, but our sophisticated telescopes, spacecraft Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have provided us with valuable and interesting information about Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun.
Named after named after the elder god and powerful Titan of Roman mythology (Cronus in Greek mythology), who ruled supreme until he was dethroned by his son Jupiter (Zeus to the ancient Greeks), to many Saturn is one of the most beautiful celestial objects in our Solar System.
The planet takes about 29.5 Earth years to complete a single orbit around the Sun, but a Saturnian day is only approximately 10 hours and 30 minutes long.
Saturn is not the only planet in our Solar System that has rings. Gas giants Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also have rings, but Saturn has the largest ring system.
Modern astronomers have discovered there is something wrong with the outer ring of Saturn. Mysterious objects appear to be doing some damage to Saturn’s “weirdest ring,” scientists say.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took a closer look at Saturn, the second largest planet in our Solar System. During this mission, Cassini took images of Saturn’s outer ring, a band of icy debris known as the F-ring.
According to Carl Murray, a Cassini imaging team member based at London’s Queen Mary University, the F ring is Saturn’s weirdest ring. Cassini results revealed that the F ring is even more dynamic than we ever thought. Astronomers say the F ring region is like a bustling zoo of objects from a half mile in size to moons like Prometheus a hundred miles in size, creating a spectacular show.
According to David Aguilar, astronomer and author it seems like something just punched clean through and left a hole behind.
“It looks really weird. It looks like maybe there’s been an explosion in the F-ring, “Addie Dove, planetary scientist said.
Some unknown force pulled out half of the material from the rings. So, what mysterious object is responsible for the hole in Saturn’s F-ring?
One possibility scientists discussed is that Pandora, a heavily cratered, inner Moon of Saturn could be blamed. Is Pandora causing the disturbance to Saturn’s F-ring?
It is possible that Pandora’s strong gravitational pull dragged out material from the F-ring. The Cassini images indicates this may be the case, but when scientists did the necessary calculations, it turned out Pandora cannot be held responsible for the mysterious hole in Saturn’s ring.
Pandora is too small. Its gravity is not big enough to cause this kind of disturbance. Pandora is just an innocent bystander.
Scientists think a big, mysterious object passed through this region of space, punched through the F-ring and then disappeared. What we see on the Cassini images is the result of this collision, but the nature of the object responsible for the hole remains an unexplained cosmic mystery.
Galileo Galilei once said, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
We have not yet discovered the truth about the mysterious object that created the hole on one of Saturn’s beautiful rings, but perhaps one day we will learn the truth and then, everything will be crystal clear.
Currently there is much more that we don’t know than we do know.