Of all the planets in our solar system, you must agree that Saturn is most immediately recognizable. With its iconic rings, you can choose Saturn right away, but if NASA's scientists are right, we could actually see the planet's most striking feature vanish right in front of us.
In a new video, NASA Goddard explains that although Saturn has always been seen with his powerful rings, the rings themselves are quite young. It is estimated that they are less than 100 million years old, and they are a "new" feature of the earth, and they will not be long in coming.
The rings are mainly made up of frozen water, and they are constantly pumping incredible amounts of ice onto the planet. A recent publication suggests that 22,000 pounds of material fall from the rings every second, and the rain completely bleeds the rings over time.
The particles that make up the rings are bombarded by solar radiation and, as the video explains, plasma clouds by impacts from space rocks. It is these interactions that cause the material to be caught in the magnetic field of the planet and then pulled down by gravity onto the planet.
NASA estimates the amount of material present in the rings along with data on how much of it is falling indicates that the rings have completely disappeared within 300 million years. Such a timeline means that none of us will be around to see Saturn in his future ringless state, but that's not the point. The fact is, Saturn moves quickly into another ring-free phase of its life, and that's pretty wild.