Comparative planetology of the giant planet ring systems

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


The Voyager 1 and 2 encounters of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune provided us for the first time detailed views of the ring systems of all four planets, and, for the first time, in color. The images and other data from Voyager were a snapshot in time of rings whose features vary over intervals of years, and in some cases over months or even days. Occasional observations of these ring systems by the Hubble Space Telescope and other Earth-based observatories provided the first evidence of this variability, and data from the Cassini Orbiter have provided ample evidence of that variability in Saturn’s ring system.


Ring System Spiral Wave Giant Planet Narrow Ring Ring Material 
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11.9 Notes And References

  1. [2]
    Tremain, S., 2003, “On the origin of irregular structure in Saturn’s Rings”, Astronomical Journal 125, 894–901. In this article, the author suggests that ring-particle assemblies of up to about 100 km in radial extent stick together and inhibit Keplerian shear from occurring; he further explains that the scale of the irregular structure is set by the competition between tidal forces from Saturn and the yield stress of these large, flat ice floes.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

11.10 Bibliography

  1. Burns, J. A., 1999, “Planetary rings”, Chapter 16 in The New Solar System (4th Edition), edited by Beatty, J. K., Petersen, C. C., Chaikin, A., Sky Publishing Corporation and Cambridge University Press, pp. 221–240.Google Scholar
  2. Burns, J. A., Hamilton, D. P., Showalter, M. R., 2003, “Bejeweled worlds”, Scientific American 13, 74–83 (special edition entitled, “New Light on the Solar System”).Google Scholar
  3. Porco, C. C., Baker, E., Barbara, J., Beurle, K., Brahic, A., Burns, J. A., Charnoz, S., Cooper, N., Dawson, D. D., Del Genio, A. D., Denk, T., Dones, L., Dyudina, U., Evans, M. W., Giese, B., Grazier, K., Helfenstein, P., Ingersoll, A. P., Jacobson, R. A., Johnson, T. V., McEwen, A., Murray, C. D., Neukum, G., Owen, W. M., Perry, J., Roatsch, T., Spitale, J., Squyres, S., Thomas, P., Tiscareno, M., Turtle, E., Vasavada, A. R., Veverka, J., Wagner, R., West, R., 2005, “Cassini imaging science: Initial results on Saturn’s rings and small satellites”, Science 307, 1226–1236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Praxis Publishing Ltd, Chichester, UK 2007

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