Exciting news from space: Astronomers have discovered that charged water particles fall from Saturn's rings over large areas of the planet, and the rainwater has a major impact on Saturn's atmosphere.
Previously, scientists thought water particles only fell to the planet in two or three narrow bands. But after analyzing data from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, astronomers at the University of Leicester found that the ring-rain is actually widespread and influences the composition and temperature of large parts of Saturn's upper atmosphere.
"Saturn is the first planet to show significant interaction between its atmosphere and ring system," James O'Donoghue, the paper's lead author, says. "The main effect of ring-rain is that it acts to 'quench' the ionosphere of Saturn, severely reducing the electron densities in regions in which it falls."
The discovery that ring-rain decreases electron densities solves a long-standing mystery: For decades, astronomers have wondered why they observed unusually low electron densities at some places on Saturn.
According to the researchers, Saturn's magnetic field draws charged water particles in the rings toward the planet, causing the rain effect. This isn't the first time astronomers have detected odd weather activity on our solar system's second largest planet. In 2011, scientists observed that Saturn's moon Enceladus was spewing huge jets of water onto its host planet.
The study appears in this week's issue of Nature.
Saturn's temperature may have increased lately due to high level of CO2 on earth. wink wink
I can't see how the low temperatures in Saturn's rings would allow water to become liquid.
it wouldnt be liquid till it hits the atmosphere. i am curious how the ice particles become magnetized.
riff-raff, well you have to take pressure into consideration. On earth we have 0C for freezing & 100C for boiling because we have 1 atmospheric pressure; (up in the mountains you can boil water at less than 100C because pressure is lower).
So on Saturn since there is no pressure, water would exist in liquid even at very low temperatures.
No pressure on Saturn huh? Pressures on that planet can exceed 20 bar.
"...So on Saturn since there is no pressure, water would exist in liquid even at very low temperature..."
Tygrys- The water could only exists as ice crystals within the rings of Saturn. Within the vacuum of space, water having sufficient energy input to liquify would also likely have sufficient energy to transition to a gas, and quickly be dispersed.
Consider the planet Mars, which has a lower atmospheric pressure and less gravity than Saturn, but also has a much higher surface temperature. Mars lost most of its surface water, which was in the form of ice, by evaporation into space.