What does the Jewish nation have in common with the sixth planet of our solar system, Saturn? While Jews are referred to as God’s chosen nation, the yellowish gas giant with its spectacular rings has also been coined as the “jewel of the Solar System.”
This past year, Israeli researchers stood at the forefront of new discoveries of Saturn, by using measurements coming from NASA’s Cassini probe, which self-destructed in 2017. Scientists at NASA were able to determine the age of Saturn’s rings, while Israeli researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot were able to calculate that the very strong winds on Saturn are very deep, reaching some 9,000 km. into the interior of the huge planet. These winds are much deeper than those on Jupiter, because of its lower density and weaker gravitational pull. Sounds pretty simple, right? It was anything but. The Jerusalem Report spoke to the man behind the research, Prof. Yohai Kaspi at the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Weizmann and head of the institute’s Center for Planetary Science about his discoveries and what makes the planet so special.
Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is a gaseous planet with a hot inner core. Well-recognized by its characteristic rings, its mysteries have captivated scientists for generations. In the same paper, published in the journal Science, the group determined the age of the planet’s rings after examining data from the Cassini spacecraft, concluding they are only 10 to100 million years old. In a revealing twist, that means that during the Cretaceous period – when the last dinosaurs roamed the Earth – our night sky looked vastly different than it does today.