Saturn’s rings are mostly made up of pieces of ice and rock, some of which are tiny and dust-like, and some of which are as huge as things like cars and even schools! Scientists believe that Saturn has these awesome rings because it’s so big and has lots of moons, meaning it has a stronger pull of gravity than other “ring-less” planets like Earth. According to this idea, it’s this stronger pull of gravity that causes the ice and rock to orbit all around Saturn in these neat ring-like patterns!
No one knows exactly why or how all of this ice and rock got pulled in so close to Saturn in the first place. One idea is that the rings are made from the dust of Saturn’s many moons, which might have come from asteroids hitting these moons. The particles that make up the rings could also come from asteroids or comets that have hit Saturn itself. Another idea is that the rings are made up of leftover pieces from other, old moons that once orbited Saturn but broke up, or that they’re made up of particles that remain from when Saturn was first formed!
Ring it in!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have rings, just like Saturn?? Well, now you can know!
Get a hula-hoop and some string. Have a grown-up help you cut and tie the string so that the hula-hoop loops over your arms like suspenders, and keeps the hula-hoop in place to “float” around your waist!
What is it like to have your own rings? If you have more hula-hoops, try it out with two or three or even four rings!!
Sources & links
Koerner, Brendan I. “Why Does Saturn Have Rings?” Explainer. 9 Jul. 2004. Slate. 11 Jan. 2011 “Saturn: Rings.” Solar System Exploration ”“ Planets. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 11 Jan. 2011