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Saturn’s rings formed from the death of one of its moons; Pluto still not a planet

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Every time there’s breaking planetary news, I fear that some mad scientist has pulled a Pluto and demoted my childhood education. I’ll never forget the Styrofoam solar system I made for the science fair in fifth grade. I hand painted each planet, carved some craters, and attached each them to a large coat hanger. Saturn’s rings were made of lime green pipe cleaners. In retrospect, I guess I should’ve made the rings out of ice cubes.

Photo courtesy of One Step Ahead

On Tuesday, Nature.com reported that “Saturn’s rings may have been formed from the death of an early Titan-sized moon whose upper layers were ripped off as it spiralled into the infant Saturn.”

The rings are mostly made up of ice, said the website. If this new theory is correct, “Saturn would originally have had a ring much more massive than it is now. That would mean the ring contained enough material to spawn icy moons like Enceladus, Dione and Tethys.”

Like the failed car company, Saturn has always played second fiddle to the flashier planets like Mars. I’m sure the people of Saturn, and Mr. Pacman, are happy it’s getting some press.

What I really want to know is, when will NASA find Ms. Pacman?

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