NASA scientists reveal that Saturn is losing its rings at an alarming rate
They've described it as a "worst-case scenario".
In our most empty Milky Way, one of the visual highlights has got to be the rings of Saturn.
Growing up, learning the planets, Saturn and its rings always seemed like the coolest planet, the most fashion-forward of the bunch.
Even though it actually isn't the only planet in our solar system with rings - Neptune and Uranus are also wearing some icy jewellery - Saturn is the one that stands out from the crowd.
And it turns out, according to NASA at least, that the rings are on their way out.
Apparently, the planet's gravitational pull is bringing the ice fields down towards the surface, in a near-constant bombardment of icy rain.
James O’Donoghue of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center had the following to say:
"We estimate that this ‘ring rain’ drains an amount of water products that could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool from Saturn’s rings in half an hour.
"From this alone, the entire ring system will be gone in 300 million years, but add to this the Cassini-spacecraft measured ring-material detected falling into Saturn’s equator, and the rings have less than 100 million years to live. This is relatively short, compared to Saturn’s age of over four billion years."
300,000,000 years, give or take. Enjoy them while you can!
Clip via NASA Goddard