Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest planet in our solar system. Like fellow gas gigantic Jupiter, Saturn is a substantial ball made mostly of hydrogen and helium. Saturn is not the only planet to have actually rings, however none are as spectacular or as complicated as Saturn's. Saturn also has dozens of moons.

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From the jets of water that spray from Saturn's moon Enceladus to the methane lakes ~ above smoggy Titan, the Saturn mechanism is a rich resource of scientific discovery and still holds countless mysteries.

Namesake

Namesake

The farthest planet from Earth discovered by the unaided human being eye, Saturn has actually been recognized since old times. The planet is named for the roman god of farming and wealth, who was also the father of Jupiter.

Potential because that Life

Potential because that Life

Saturn's atmosphere is no conducive come life together we understand it. The temperatures, pressures, and materials that characterize this earth are most most likely too extreme and also volatile for organisms to adapt to.

While planet Saturn is an unlikely location for living points to take it hold, the very same is not true of few of its plenty of moons. Satellites choose Enceladus and Titan, house to interior oceans, can possibly assistance life.

Size and Distance

Size and Distance

With a radius that 36,183.7 mile (58,232 kilometers), Saturn is 9 times broader than Earth. If earth were the dimension of a nickel, Saturn would certainly be about as huge as a volleyball.

From an typical distance the 886 million mile (1.4 exchange rate kilometers), Saturn is 9.5 expensive units away from the Sun. One astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the sunlight to Earth. Indigenous this distance, the takes sunlight 80 minute to travel from the sun to Saturn.


A 3D model of Saturn, the ringed gas giant planet. Credit: chrischona2015.org Visualization technology Applications and advancement (VTAD)› Download Options
Orbit and also Rotation

Orbit and also Rotation

Saturn has actually the second-shortest day in the solar system. Sooner or later on Saturn takes just 10.7 hrs (the time it takes for Saturn to rotate or spin approximately once), and Saturn provides a finish orbit roughly the sun (a year in Saturnian time) in around 29.4 planet years (10,756 earth days).

Its axis is tilted by 26.73 degrees with respect come its orbit approximately the Sun, i m sorry is comparable to Earth's 23.5-degree tilt. This method that, prefer Earth, Saturn experiences seasons.

Moons

Moons

Saturn is house to a substantial array of intriguing and unique worlds. Native the haze-shrouded surface ar of Titan to crater-riddled Phoebe, each of Saturn's moons tells another piece the the story bordering the Saturn system. Currently, Saturn has actually 53 confirmed moons through 29 extr provisional moons awaiting confirmation.


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This Cassini photo from 2012 reflects Titan and its hold planet Saturn. Picture Credit: chrischona2015.org/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Rings

Rings

Saturn's rings space thought to be pieces of comets, asteroids, or not correct moons that damaged up prior to they reached the planet, torn apart by Saturn's an effective gravity. They room made of billions of small chunks of ice and rock coated with other materials such as dust. The ring particles mostly selection from tiny, dust-sized icy grains to chunks as big as a house. A few particles are as huge as mountains. The rings would certainly look largely white if friend looked at them native the cloud tops of Saturn, and interestingly, every ring orbits at a different speed around the planet.

Saturn's ring mechanism extends approximately 175,000 mile (282,000 kilometers) indigenous the planet, however the vertical height is typically around 30 feet (10 meters) in the key rings. Named alphabetically in the order they to be discovered, the rings are relatively close to each other, v the exception of a void measuring 2,920 miles (4,700 kilometers) in width dubbed the Cassini division that separates rings A and B. The main rings are A, B, and also C. Ring D, E, F, and G room fainter and an ext recently discovered.

Starting at Saturn and also moving outward, over there is the D ring, C ring, B ring, Cassini Division, A ring, F ring, G ring, and finally, the E ring. Much farther out, there is the an extremely faint Phoebe ring in the orbit the Saturn's moon Phoebe.

Formation

Formation

Saturn take it shape when the remainder of the solar mechanism formed about 4.5 exchange rate years back when heaviness pulled swirling gas and dust in to become this gas giant. Around 4 billion year ago, Saturn resolved into its existing position in the outer solar system, where it is the sixth earth from the Sun. Favor Jupiter, Saturn is largely made of hydrogen and helium, the exact same two main components that comprise the Sun.

Structure

Structure

Like Jupiter, Saturn is made largely of hydrogen and also helium. In ~ Saturn's facility is a dense core of steels like iron and also nickel surrounded by rocky material and also other compounds solidified by extreme pressure and also heat. The is sheathe by fluid metallic hydrogen within a great of fluid hydrogen –similar come Jupiter's core but considerably smaller.

It's difficult to imagine, however Saturn is the just planet in our solar system with one average density that is much less than water. The giant gas planet might float in a bathtub if together a colossal thing existed.

Surface

Surface

As a gas giant, Saturn doesn’t have actually a true surface. The earth is mainly swirling gases and liquids depths down. While a spacecraft would have nowhere to land ~ above Saturn, it wouldn’t be able to fly with unscathed either. The excessive pressures and also temperatures deep within the planet would crush, melt, and also vaporize any type of spacecraft trying come fly into the planet.

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Saturn is blanketed through clouds that appear as pass out stripes, jet streams, and storms. The earth is numerous different shades the yellow, brown, and gray.

Winds in the upper atmosphere reach 1,600 feet per second (500 meters per second) in the equatorial region. In contrast, the strongest hurricane-force winds on earth top out at around 360 feet per 2nd (110 meters per second). And also the pressure – the same kind you feel once you dive deep underwater – is so an effective it squeezes gas right into a liquid.

Saturn's north pole has actually an amazing atmospheric attribute – a six-sided jet stream. This hexagon-shaped pattern was first noticed in pictures from the Voyager ns spacecraft and also has been much more closely observed by the Cassini spacecraft since. Spanning about 20,000 mile (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet currently of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) v a massive, rotating storm in ~ the center. Over there is no weather function like it anywhere else in the solar system.

Magnetosphere

Magnetosphere

Saturn's magnetic ar is smaller than Jupiter's however still 578 times as an effective as Earth's. Saturn, the rings, and many the the satellites lie totally within Saturn's enormous magnetosphere, the an ar of space in i m sorry the actions of electrically charged particles is influenced an ext by Saturn's magnetic field than through the solar wind.

Aurorae take place when charged particles spiral into a planet's atmosphere along magnetic ar lines. Top top Earth, this charged corpuscle come indigenous the solar wind. Cassini verified that at least some that Saturn's aurorae are choose Jupiter's and are greatly unaffected through the solar wind. Instead, this aurorae are resulted in by a combination of corpuscle ejected indigenous Saturn's moons and also Saturn's magnetic field's fast rotation rate. However these "non-solar-originating" aurorae space not completely understood yet.

Resources

Resources


Day10.7 hours

Year29 planet years

Radius36,183.7 mile | 58,232 kilometers

Planet TypeGas giant

Moons53 shown | 29 provisional


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Everything you need to know—and then some—about the Cassini mission’s epic expedition of the Saturn system.

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This web page showcases our resources for those interested in learning more about Saturn and also Titan. It includes tasks that have the right to be done at home and videos, animations, stories, and also articles.