- News Home
13 March 2014 11:08 am ,
Vol. 343 ,
In the shadow of the crisis in Crimea, Ukrainian legislators are weighing a pair of science and education bills that...
Researchers dependent on government funding would face a flat future under the White House's $3.9 trillion budget...
Reservoirs of cells that harbor HIV DNA woven into human chromosomes have become the bane of researchers trying to cure...
Geochemists have now incorporated in their models some details of the way naturally acidic rainwater dissolves rock...
Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disorder that afflicts about 1% of the world's population at one time or another...
Surface tension is a force to be reckoned with, especially if you are small. It enables a water strider to skate along...
- 13 March 2014 11:08 am , Vol. 343 , #6176
- About Us
ScienceShot: Impacts Leave Marks on Rings of Saturn and Jupiter
31 March 2011 2:00 pm
Whizzing asteroids and comets have battered Earth and all the other solid bodies of our solar system over the eons, but the ethereal rings of the giant planets seemed immune. No longer. In two papers published online today in Science, researchers report that comet impacts in recent decades have left their mark on the rings of both Saturn and Jupiter. In August 2009, the orbiting Cassini spacecraft caught sight of 20-meter-high corrugations rippling across 1500 kilometers of Saturn's inner C ring (regular, narrow bright bands, above), which is only about 10 meters thick. The corrugations turn out to be one continuous wave spiraling outward like the groove in a vinyl LP record. And in 2007, the New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto imaged two wave sets spiraling through each other in the faint, dusty ring of Jupiter. One Jovian wave appears to be still on the move 13 years after fragments from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit the ring on their way to pummeling Jupiter in 1994. But for any impacting object to hit a tenuous ring hard enough to tilt it and set off such reverberations, both teams agree, it would first have to disintegrate into a cloud of fine debris that can hit a broad area of ring. That's just what Jupiter's gravity did to Shoemaker-Levy 9.
See more ScienceShots.