This documentary begins with a great deal of appreciation for Saturn's rings,
including their initial discovery by Galileo in 1610, the mystery of why they seem
to occasionally disappear, and the new close-up views Mankind has had of them via
our automated spacecraft - revealing the many different bands and other specific features.
Regular contributor Laura Danly goes cattle-herding on a farm to demonstrate the way that
Saturn's moons Prometheus and Pandora herd the rings' particles with their gravity.
Greg Laughlin also goes to a pizza kitchen to demonstrate the way disc shapes naturally
form from material propelled into a circular motion.
Also detailed is the over 350 year struggle to detect rings around another planet,
and exactly how we came to discover the rings of Uranus. The dark nature of these rings
is explored with satisfying detail. With renewed excitement, the search to definitively
prove whether other planets have rings or not heats up with discussion of Jupiter's
smoke ring, examinations of Neptune, Mars, and Pluto, and even the sun itself.
The possibility that unspecified, newly discovered exoplanets might have
rings is discussed, as is the remote possibility that we might detect those rings with the
Finally, we look at the technological ring Man has placed around the Earth,
consisting of GPS and other satellites, and how this is becoming a crowded and dangerous space.
Not quite as detailed here as in the season 3 "Edge of Space" episode, but a nice
reminder of the subject matter nonetheless.
All in all, this is a fun episode, full of cool information, and one of the
fourth season's better entries.
from the disc sleeve:
The Hunt for Ringed Planets:
What are the physics that form the amazing phenomenon of planetary rings?
From Saturn to Neptune (a little-known fact: it has rings that were only
recently discovered) and out into the realm of extrasolar planets,
we explore the science behind the most beautiful planets in the sky.
- How Rings Form
- Uranus and Jupiter