Saturn is losing its rings — much faster than scientists had anticipated

If you were to pick Saturn out of a lineup you’d probably recognize it by its iconic rings. They’re the biggest, brightest rings in our solar system. Extending over 280,000 km from the planet; wide enough to fit 6 Earths in a row. But Saturn won’t always look this way. Because its rings are disappearing.

That’s right, Saturn is losing its rings! And fast. Much faster, even, than scientists had first thought. Right now, it’s raining 10,000 kilograms of ring rain on Saturn per second. Fast enough to fill an Olympic-sized pool in half an hour.

This rain is actually the disintegrated remains of Saturn’s rings. Saturn’s rings are mostly made up of chunks of ice and rock. Which are under constant bombardment: Some by UV radiation from the Sun and others by tiny meteoroids.