Saturn rings and Tethys

Saturn’s rings and Tethys were imaged in their true colors by the Cassini spacecraft. Icy bright Tethys, a moon of Saturn likely brightened from sister moon Enceladus, is visible in front of the darker rings.   Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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How old are Saturn’s rings? No one is quite sure. One possibility is that the rings formed relatively recently in our Solar System’s history, perhaps only about 100 million years ago when a moon-sized object broke up near Saturn.

However more recent evidence, raises the possibility that some of Saturn’s rings may be billions of years old and so almost as old as Saturn itself.

Saturn’s dark-side rings glow in shades of brown and gold, contrasting with the more neutral appearance of the icy moon Tethys.

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Tethys (1,062 kilometers, 660 miles across). North is up and rotated 35 degrees to the right.

The view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 2 degrees above the ringplane.

via apodNASA