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Scientists Say Saturn Hasn't Always Had Its Iconic Rings

And they may be disappearing within the next 100 million years, too.
Posted at 10:39 PM, Jan 17, 2019

When we learned about the planets in school, most of us probably remembered Saturn as the one with rings. Well, get ready for a shock: Now some scientists are saying those rings haven't always been there.

Scientists published that finding in the journal Science on Thursday. The new data comes from the Cassini spacecraft, which plunged into Saturn's atmosphere to end its two-decade mission in 2017. 

The spacecraft managed to measure the amount of material in the rings, and because it was able to get its weight, scientists were able to figure out the age of Saturn's rings. 

Experts think they formed less than 100 million years ago, or even as "little" as 10 million years ago. To put that into perspective, Saturn is 4.5 billion years old. 

So relatively speaking, the rings are still pretty new. But they aren't going anywhere soon: Scientists say while Saturn's rings are disappearing, they'll probably stick around for almost 100 million more years.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN