Saturn May Be Steering Away Asteroids from Earth: Study
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Saturn May Be Steering Away Asteroids from Earth: Study

In a first-of-its-kind effort to decipher the conundrum if Jovian bodies protect habitable planets from the harsh impacts catastrophic events, scientists have found “Saturn,” instead of “Jupiter” to be the “hero” of the entire episode.

The long-established belief that ‘Jupiter is the “planetary shield” for earth’ is likely to be a moderately correct because a new study has described Saturn as the real hero. New simulations brought up by a team of planetary scientist suggest that Saturn, the sixth planet of the solar system, having a radius that is nine times larger than of earth may play a pivotal role in safeguarding the Earth from asteroid collisions.

According to the new study, instead of Jupiter, which earlier is believed to be the savior of earth from celestial collides, Saturn is steering space rocks away from Earth. The conception “Jupiter as a shield” was first introduced in a paper written by George Wetherill – a planetary scientist at the Carnegie Institution in 1994. In the article, George Wetherill reasoned that gravity of Jupiter helps the earth to defend itself from some space rocks and comets. Long-term comets used to get into the solar system from its outer reaches, and Jupiter’s gravity is believed to throw out most of these fast-moving space balls from marking their entrant into the solar system, far before they can reach on the brink of Earth. The paper also described that, without Jupiter earth will be vulnerable to those nearby and long-period asteroids and the events of collisions might become frequent.

But the new study, published in the science journal ‘Astrobiology,’ stated that Jupiter has both active and negative impacts on earth. On its positive side, when Jupiter is shielding our planet from comets, its influence is too setting down volatiles on Earth’s central point. “Volatiles” are celestial composites with small, sweltering points like water. While water is estimated to have appeared from comets and asteroids, the question “how Jupiter’s gravity allowed the water to move from comets and asteroids towards the earth” is still weakly understood.

The new study, conducted by Dr. Kevin Grazier, Ph.D. scholar at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, highlights about the simulation of the evolution process of ten thousands of celestial particles found in the breach flanked by the Jovian planets for up to 100 million years. Based on the aftermaths of the simulations, the lead author concludes that the time-honored belief that Jupiter shields the earth from asteroids and comets is mistaken. Instead, it is Saturn who is playing a pivotal role in steering away comets and extraterrestrial particles from the inner Solar System as well as Earth’s orbit.

In his path-breaking study, Dr. Grazier also proposes that there is another Solar System with one or more Jupiter-like planets sited ahead of the province of potential terrestrial planets and it has the habitable zone which can be favorable to the development of life.