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NASA Stumped By 4-Year-Old's Question About Saturn's Rings

I hope my kids aren't naturally curious, because they're going to find out I don't know a lick about anything.

Gavin Conway, a technology marketing director, sounds like he doesn't run into this problem a lot.

He could probably answer his 4-year-old son's questions for the most part, he even lets Josh have three questions a night.

But, like, why only three?


But then, one night, Josh stumped him when he asked, "Why is Saturn the only planet with rings?"

So, Conway turned to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California to get an answer for his son (instead of, like, googling it like a normal person).

But his email wasn't for naught! Or should I say... astroNAUGHT.

In just ten minutes, he received a response from Preston P. Dyches, a NASA comms expert. He wrote,

It's a great question. You can tell him that's exactly the kind of question a scientist would ask. Tell him there are many mysteries out there in space that will still be waiting when he grows up!

He added,

Actually, Saturn isn't the only planet with rings. All four of the giant, outer planets have them, but Saturn's are way more massive and bright than the others.

Dyches went on to explain that no one really knows how the rings were formed.


I suggested to scientists that someone liked Saturn so much they put a ring on it, and I was swiftly laughed out of the meeting.

It is believed Saturn came from an icy moon, which was torn apart by gravitational forces. The rings are made of small particles that orbit the planet, composed mostly of ice and rocky materials.

Galileo Galilei was the first person to observe the rings using his telescope in 1610.

He was all like, "What the WHAT?"

He thought they were three planets touching each other, and said that Saturn had "ears." In 1612, he did not see the rings, because of the way the planet was positioned toward Earth. He wondered, "has Saturn swallowed his children?"

People were SO DUMB. (JK, Galileo was pretty cool.)

Citations: Four-year-old emails cute question to NASA – and scientist actually replies (Metro)