Planetary Society: “Watching the birth and death of moonlets in Saturn’s F ring”

I remember seeing pictures from the Voyager space probes in National Geographic magazine back in the early 1980s, and wondering what could be out there. What did the rings look like close up? Saturn’s innumerable moons, what would it be like to stand on one, or jump on one? I began absorbing as much information about the planets as I could, soon becoming a veritable seven-year-old encyclopedia on the composition of the gas giants and Pluto’s eccentric orbit. Between that and watching Star Trek and The Tomorrow People, it rooted me in full-bore geekdom for years to come.

Saturn's rings

While I consider myself more of a gardening geek today, I still have a deep-rooted love for the wonders of the cosmos. It’s appropriate then that we learned Saturn’s “potato-shaped” moons, Pandora and Prometheus, are wisping alongside and through one of the planet’s rings, causing accretion of dust and particles. This eventually will create little asteroids or “moonlets,” which may or may not be thrown out of the ring. Pretty amazing.

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.