What are Saturn’s rings composed of?

Saturn, as any other gaseous planet in the solar system (Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune), has rings, even if his rings are bigger and better well known. We know that Saturn has rings, and that they are very big, but sometimes arises the question: what are Saturn’s rings composed of?

Saturn’s rings, either if we refer to the biggest of them or the smaller, are composed from the same element types and particles, even if their size can variate a lot. The rings, which spread out in a very long distance, of about 400 000 kilometres of diameter, are composed mainly by rocks, ice and dust. The sizes of these elements, as I said, can variate a lot. The dust or the small rocks can be small as a sand grain, but there are also rocks that can arrive to have the size of a bus or a small building.

The different composition or distribution of these particles of rocks and ice, is the responsible for which there are rings that shine more than others. This phenomenon is due to that, depending on its composition, an object reflects either better or worse the light of the Sun that it arrives to it. If it reflects better the light from the Sun, that part of the rings will be of a clear colour. However, if it don’t reflects well the light from the Sun, it will be of a dark colour. If we see images from Saturn’s rings, it can be appreciated clearly the different brilliances and tones.

It is though that all these rocks, ice and dust come from comets, or simply asteroids, that, due to the immense gravity of the planet, they approached and fragmented, making that the remainders to dispose in a ring form around Saturn. This theory would explain the uniform composition of the rings, as all the asteroids and comets are composed practically from the same elements.

Even if we have many information about Saturn’s rings, thanks to different probes that have gone to study it, between them the Cassini probe, which is the most recent, know exactly of what are composed Saturn’s rings is nowadays a question that many people don’t know.

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