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In Saturn’s Rings, a Portal to the Planet’s Interior
In addition to being spectacularly beautiful, Saturn’s rings act as a cosmic seismograph: They keep a record of the shifts and vibrations happening deep within the giant world. These internal movements pull ever so gently on the ring particles and alter their orbits around Saturn, creating visible gaps and waves in the rings close to the planet.
By reading that pattern of gaps and waves, scientists can reconstruct what’s happening in Saturn’s gassy interior – and, as reported at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting last month, they’re finding some things they didn’t expect.
“What’s great about Saturn, of course, is that it has rings. And this allows us to detect oscillations of the planet itself, which otherwise is almost impossible to