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This web page's content and links are no longer actively maintained. It is available for reference purposes only. NASA Official: Dr. Paul Mahaffy

Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer


The Rings

Saturn's rings

Saturn's rings are the most distinctive feature of the planet. At one time, astronomers believed that the rings were uniform, but they now know that is not the case. Saturn's rings are actually composed of a collection of particles that range in size from a grain of sand to a car. The rings are comprised of ice and rock particles. The rings are divided into 7 major ring divisions and possess intricate structure and complex gravitational interactions.

The origin of Saturn's rings is a mystery. Scientists hope that data from Cassini will shed some light on the issue. In addition, understanding the origin of Saturn's rings may help scientists also understand the origin of the Solar System. Saturn and its ring system are thought to be similar to the setup of the early Solar System.

The Moons

Saturn has 18 known moons. It is possible that Cassini will discover more. Saturn's moons range in size from smaller than an asteroid to larger than the planet Mercury. More moons of greater variety orbit Saturn than any other planet. They are listed below:

All these moons (plus any new ones found) will be studied by Cassini, but the most extensive study will be the Huygens probe on Titan.

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