Now we know how long a day lasts on Saturn

Now we know how long a day lasts on Saturn

Saturn's rings allowed scientists to determine how long a gas giant day lasts

Researchers finally managed to solve one of the secrets of the solar system. If you ever find yourself on Saturn, then get ready for the fact that the day there covers 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds. The figures were obtained thanks to NASA Cassini spacecraft research, which plunged into the atmosphere of the planet in September 2017.

Scientists have used the waves on the rings to look inside Saturn. Some people think that measuring the day on an alien planet is easy. However, gas giants are more complicated. They have no solid surface, but only moving clouds. Previously, the slope of the magnetic field was used for calculations. However, with Saturn it did not work, because the field almost perfectly coincides with the axis of rotation. Because of this, the estimated time of the day was between 10 hours and 36 minutes and 10 hours and 48 minutes. In the last study, they decided to use a completely new approach - look not at the planet, but its rings. This idea was proposed as far back as 1982, but was only used with the flight of Cassini.

What is the point? When Saturn rotates, its interior also sways slightly, causing small changes in the gravitational field of the planet. These transformations spread to ice fragments in the rings, creating waves. The researchers carefully studied the waves, and determined the duration of the day on the planet. This is a more accurate indicator, but still not final due to possible errors (for a minute or a second).

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