So oblate spheroid man is mad. One of his oblate spheroids has these nasty rings on it and he cannot watch it rotate in peace. So he dispatches Mr. Skeeble to get rid of them. Mr. Skeeble gets to Saturn and opens his Geffelle™ phone and goes to Amazone to order something to get rid of the rings. Using only tech that could be developed in 750 years (fusion drives, HELs, big nukes, interplanetary cargo ships, etc...) how can Skeeble get rid of the rings before Oblate compacts him.

Rules The rings must be removed in less than 50 years. Saturn must remain intact. Whatever gets rid of the rings should not mess up the view. I can already hear the inevitable, “Antimtter DeathStar or other large improbable device. Don’t even try. Thanks

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    $\begingroup$ Some Comet cleanser, a little elbow grease, and those rings will scrub right out. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jan 26 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ Alternately, you can hire Mega Maid from the movie Spaceballs $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jan 27 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ Point of order: So far as we know, every tech that is possible in our universe could be developed in a lot less than 750 years, technological development being the self-reinforcing process that it is. $\endgroup$ – Kaz Jan 27 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ Currently, Saturn's rings are disappearing. Just speed up that process. $\endgroup$ – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Jan 28 at 2:15

Clear them out with a moon.



Behold Daphnis. It is a little moon of Saturn. As it cruises along it has cleared a path for itself in its ring.

Daphnis is not big enough to to the job solo. You need a bigger moon for a more complete Daphnis maneuver. Fortunately Saturn offers a lot of moonstuff to work with. Your ringbusting team will accrete the many inner moons of Saturn and set the resulting body (named Skeeble) to orbit within the ring, clearing material out of the way both gravitationally and also by whacking into stuff. OK, mostly gravitationally.

Ok, ok, all gravitationally.

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    $\begingroup$ And the best part is, it'll be an oblate spheroid too! $\endgroup$ – No Name Jan 27 at 5:10

Sell them!

Put Amazone out of business with a new chain of water, oxygen, fuel, and plastic stores.

To paraphrase the opening sequence of "The Expanse": "out past the belt; Oxygen and water are more valuable than gold."

The rings are composed primarily of water ice. This can be sold as is or melted (water: cha-ching) electrolised into oxygen (cha-ching), processed with co2 and turned methane (fuel: cha-ching) or ethanol (booze: cha-ching), or processed with co2 and turned into all sorts of plastics for 3d printed parts (cha-ching).

Poor amazone having to pay launch costs will never be able to compete with your operation, with much lower delta V costs you can form a monopoly on supplying the outer planets with everything they need. Since you need to sell it all quickly, you can undercut existing sellers until you corner the market.

Oblate will surely be surprised when Skeeble buys a 51% share in Oblate inc using the trillions of dollars he made cornering the life support market.

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    $\begingroup$ Problem is just: There is no shortage of ice in the universe as is - essentially every place a human would ever reach has buttloads of it. Just the processing is too expensive to be economical. $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Anonymous Jan 26 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ @AnonymousAnonymous, but it's not ice from Saturn rings. Don't underestimate the power of branding $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 27 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Got me there! $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Anonymous Jan 27 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ ice in the ring also has a lot of angular momentum, which means it is fairly easy to send it anywhere in the system. fuel and water delivered on demand with just a small impulse. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 27 at 17:02

Shoot it into Saturn with a laser via laser ablation

Several space agencies have plans of cleaning up earth's orbit with a laser broom. In principle, you point the laser at a piece of spacerock and ablate some material from it. This will create a type of propulsion for the rock, if you slow it down below its orbital speed it will plummet to earth. The current problem is that you need to penetrate the earth's atmosphere and still have a strong and focussed enough laser to ablate material.

For your Saturn problem, just use a powerful space based laser close to the ring and start zapping away at the stonen from the outside of the ring. I am not sure whether you would need to zap in the direction of Saturn, to push them in that direction, or that you would need to zap in the opposite direction of movement of the stone and let gravity do the work. I think the latter is better to avoid slingshotting stones away.

Since gravity will do most of the work you don't require that much energy (on a planetary scale) to collapse the rings. Also since most of the rocks in the rings are ice, you don't need that much energy for ablation. If you need more energy or want to do it faster just get a more powerful laser or more laser platforms, it is easily scalable.


I'm a simple man. I believe that there is a simple solution for most problems, no matter how complex[1][2][3][4][5][6].


It seems like a reasonable response to me. As the size of an explosion increases, the number of social situations it is incapable of solving approaches zero.

Any civilization that is able to send a lot of mass to Saturn in short time should be able to send nukes in short time.

This is what the wiki says about the rings:

Cassini directly measured the mass of the ring system via their gravitational effect during its final set of orbits that passed between the rings and the cloud tops, yielding a value of 1.54 (± 0.49) × 1019 kg, or 0.41 ± 0.13 Mimas masses. This is as massive as about half the mass of the Earth's entire Antarctic ice shelf, spread across a surface area 80 times larger than that of Earth.

Can we nuke it all? I believe so. Nukes in space behave much differently from nukes in an atmosphere. Check out this Kurzgesagt video which details what would happen if we detonated a nuke twice as powerful as the Tsar Bomba on the Moon!

As for where to get all the uranium for all the nukes, harvest it from Mercury or Mars. You won't be damaging ecosystems by mining those places.

When you detonate the nukes, the ice in the rings will be gasified and each gas particle will reach escape speed. As a bonus, Saturn will become the most beautiful planet in the sky for a few hours.

  • $\begingroup$ you will need a lot of nukes, as in more than you can make from all the fissile material on earth. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 27 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ @John I agree, and I am suggesting to get some from other planets. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jan 27 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if even that is enough, one way nukes are different in space is they don't generate much of a pressure wave. most of the energy comes in the form of heat and light. they can't push the things around them much. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 27 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ @John no but they can heat gas particles into escape speed. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jan 27 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ That works better in a atmospheres, heat and escape velocity are not as tightly correlated in high orbit. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 27 at 18:09

A self replicating robot

The seeker bot arrives and he gives it a photo of Saturn's rings and then draws red x through several sections of the rings as the bot observes. It then confirms and uses quantum computing to guess what to do... After only ten years there are billions of bots made from all the usable material from the rings... then the bots spend the next 40 years using someone else's answer to remove the remaining.

  • $\begingroup$ lol, funny answer) $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Mar 21 at 18:25

Deploy the Gravitation Blocking Shield

This gravitational disrupting barrier will inhibit gravitational forces trying to pass through it. Correct placement will allow the rings' orbit to be disrupted, and the matter will pass into stellar orbit and disperse.


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