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Why does Saturn have a ring that floats?
Question Date: 2013-02-19
Answer 1:

Good question! Saturn’s rings are made up of billions of “dust” particles that orbit around the planet. These “dust” particles are actually pieces of ice and rock that range in size from millimeters (the size of sand) to meters (the size of cars) across. They orbit Saturn like satellites because they are attracted to the planet’s gravitational field. These particles are spinning because of the physical law of conservation of angular momentum. This law states that once something starts spinning, it won’t stop unless something interferes with it. The spinning causes the cloud of particles to flatten into rings.

Answer 2:

The rings of Saturn, which are made up of mostly chunks of ice, orbit around Saturn due to two forces. Just like gravity pulls everything on Earth, the rings are “falling” towards Saturn. However, they are also moving “past” Saturn. The combination of these forces is an orbit around Saturn.

Answer 3:

Saturn's rings are actually made of many particles of ice and rock. These particles orbit Saturn, and they do so because there is a balance between Saturn's pull of gravity on them and their own forward motion in space. The particles have a certain amount of "inertia" or tendency to stay in (forward/linear) motion, but Saturn's gravitational pull results in the particles not moving "forward" but "around" Saturn.

Answer 4:

The ring doesn't float so much as orbits. Saturn's rings are composed of millions of tiny moons that orbit the planet just as Earth's moon orbits the Earth.

Answer 5:

Saturn's rings are composed of particles of ice and dust that orbit the planet in a very discrete plane. They are in orbit because they are moving too quickly to be caught by Saturn's gravitational pull. Thus, the rings are not "floating", rather, they are flying at thousands of miles per hour in a circular path around the planet. Scientists have shown that there are many individual rings, some of which are in precise gravitational balance between Saturn's moons and the planet.

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