An Evolving View of Saturn's Dynamic Rings

Abstract : We review our understanding of Saturn's rings after nearly 6 years of observations by the Cassini spacecraft. Saturn's rings are composed mostly of water ice but also contain an undetermined reddish contaminant. The rings exhibit a range of structure across many spatial scales; some of this involves the interplay of the fluid nature and the self-gravity of innumerable orbiting centimeter- to meter-sized particles, and the effects of several peripheral and embedded moonlets, but much remains unexplained. A few aspects of ring structure change on time scales as short as days. It remains unclear whether the vigorous evolutionary processes to which the rings are subject imply a much younger age than that of the solar system. Processes on view at Saturn have parallels in circumstellar disks.
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J. N. Cuzzi, J. A. Burns, S. Charnoz, R. N. Clark, J. E. Colwell, et al.. An Evolving View of Saturn's Dynamic Rings. Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2010, 327 (5972), pp.1470-1475. ⟨10.1126/science.1179118⟩. ⟨cea-00865799⟩

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