Even though NASA lost contact with Cassini more than a year ago, they are still sharing new findings
More than a year after NASA lost contact with the spacecraft, scientists have published pieces of research from its final orbits, Cassini’s “Grand Finale,” and apparently, Saturn’s rings are raining down.
After taking a closer look to the data coming from Cassini, researchers discovered evidence of particles and gases from Saturn’s inner rings falling down into its upper atmosphere. The rings rain down 22,000 pounds of material per second.
While some of these particles are falling quickly into Saturn, NASA says that other become electrically charged and “spiral along magnetic-field lines” falling to Saturn in what is called a “Ring rain.”
In another highly important discovery, scientists discovered that organic particles embedded in the water “nanograins” coming down from Saturn’s rings are made of different organic compounds to those found on Saturn’s moons. What does that mean? It means “three distinct reservoirs of organic molecules in the Saturn system.”
“Almost everything going on in that region turned out to be a surprise,” said Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker. “That was the importance of going there, to explore a place we’d never been before. And the expedition really paid off — the data is tremendously exciting.”