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Saturn’s rings prevent ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun

Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been told that the rings of Saturn planet prevent ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun. Scientists said that the process of ionization reduces in areas where the shadow of these rings falls, thereby affecting its environment. Saturn’s atmosphere is called ‘ionosphere’. The ionosphere is surprisingly uneven and structured on small scales. One reason for that is shadows cast by the rings, which block ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, thereby reducing the ionization in those regions. However, that cannot explain all of the variation, so Wahlund et al. propose that a “ring rain” mechanism may operate, whereby water ions originating from the planet’s rings interact with free electrons in the ionosphere. Variation in extreme ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, strong longitudinal wind variations, or magnetic field interactions with the rings, are other possible explanations for the variability observed in Saturn’s ionosphere, said by the writers.

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