Before it plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn on its final death dive, the Cassini spacecraft made 22 orbits of the planet that followed a path no probe had taken before: It flew between the massive planet and its rings.
During those final orbits, Cassini’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) spotted water ice and complex organic molecules flowing from the rings to the atmosphere of the planet: ring rain.
But it turns out, “ring rain is more like a ring downpour,” according to Hunter Waite of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), lead author of a paper on the findings published October 4 in Science.
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