Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest planet in ours solar system. Like other gas giant Jupiter, Saturn is a substantial ball made mainly of hydrogen and helium. Saturn is no the only planet to have rings, but none are as spectacular or as facility as Saturn's. Saturn also has dozens that moons.

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From the jet of water the spray indigenous Saturn's moon Enceladus come the methane lakes on smoggy Titan, the Saturn device is a rich resource of scientific discovery and also still holds countless mysteries.

Namesake

Namesake

The farthest planet from Earth found by the unaided person eye, Saturn has been known since ancient times. The world is named for the roman god of agriculture and wealth, that was additionally the dad of Jupiter.

Potential for Life

Potential for Life

Saturn's environment is no conducive to life as we understand it. The temperatures, pressures, and also materials that characterize this world are most likely too extreme and volatile for organisms to it is adapted to.

While earth Saturn is an unlikely location for living points to take hold, the exact same is not true of few of its many moons. Satellites like Enceladus and also Titan, residence to inner oceans, might possibly support life.

Size and also Distance

Size and also Distance

With a radius the 36,183.7 mile (58,232 kilometers), Saturn is 9 times wider than Earth. If earth were the size of a nickel, Saturn would be about as large as a volleyball.

From an average distance the 886 million mile (1.4 exchange rate kilometers), Saturn is 9.5 astronomical units away from the Sun. One huge unit (abbreviated together AU), is the street from the sunlight to Earth. From this distance, that takes sunshine 80 minute to take trip from the sun to Saturn.


A 3D version of Saturn, the ringed gas giant planet. Credit: jajalger2018.org Visualization modern technology Applications and advance (VTAD)› Download Options
Orbit and Rotation

Orbit and Rotation

Saturn has actually the second-shortest work in the solar system. At some point on Saturn takes just 10.7 hours (the time the takes because that Saturn to rotate or spin around once), and Saturn renders 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 about the Sun, which is comparable to Earth's 23.5-degree tilt. This way that, favor Earth, Saturn experience seasons.

Moons

Moons

Saturn is residence to a large array of intriguing and also unique worlds. Native the haze-shrouded surface of Titan to crater-riddled Phoebe, each of Saturn's moons tells another piece the the story neighboring the Saturn system. Currently, Saturn has 53 confirmed moons with 29 extr provisional moons awaiting confirmation.


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This Cassini photo from 2012 shows Titan and also its hold planet Saturn. Photo Credit: jajalger2018.org/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Rings

Rings

Saturn's rings are thought come be piece of comets, asteroids, or shattered moons that damaged up before they got to the planet, torn apart through Saturn's an effective gravity. They room made that billions of little chunks the ice and rock coated through other products such as dust. The ring particles mostly selection from tiny, dust-sized icy seed to chunks as huge as a house. A couple of particles are as large as mountains. The rings would certainly look greatly white if friend looked in ~ them native the cloud top of Saturn, and interestingly, each ring orbits in ~ a various speed around the planet.

Saturn's ring mechanism extends up to 175,000 miles (282,000 kilometers) from the planet, yet the vertical elevation is typically around 30 feet (10 meters) in the main rings. Named alphabetically in the bespeak they to be discovered, the ring are reasonably close to every other, through the exemption of a gap measuring 2,920 miles (4,700 kilometers) in width referred to as the Cassini division that separates ring A and also B. The main rings are A, B, and also C. Rings D, E, F, and also G space fainter and much more recently discovered.

Starting in ~ Saturn and also moving outward, 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, over there is the really faint Phoebe ring in the orbit the Saturn's moon Phoebe.

Formation

Formation

Saturn take it shape when the rest of the solar mechanism formed around 4.5 exchange rate years ago when heaviness pulled swirling gas and also dust in to come to be this gas giant. About 4 billion year ago, Saturn settled into its existing position in the outer solar system, whereby it is the sixth world from the Sun. Like Jupiter, Saturn is greatly made of hydrogen and helium, the exact same two main contents that consist of the Sun.

Structure

Structure

Like Jupiter, Saturn is made mainly of hydrogen and helium. At Saturn's facility is a thick core of metals like iron and nickel surrounded by rocky material and other compounds coagulation by intense pressure and heat. The is enveloped by liquid metallic hydrogen inside a layer of liquid hydrogen –similar to Jupiter's core but considerably smaller.

It's difficult to imagine, yet Saturn is the just planet in ours solar device with an average thickness that is less than water. The giant gas planet might float in a bathtub if together a colossal point existed.

Surface

Surface

As a gas giant, Saturn doesn’t have a true surface. The earth is mainly swirling gases and liquids deeper down. When a spacecraft would have nowhere to land top top Saturn, it wouldn’t have the ability to fly with unscathed either. The excessive pressures and also temperatures deep inside the world would crush, melt, and also vaporize any type of spacecraft trying to fly right into the planet.

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Saturn is blanketed v clouds that show up as faint stripes, jet streams, and storms. The earth is countless different shades the yellow, brown, and also gray.

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

Saturn's phibìc pole has actually an amazing atmospheric feature – a six-sided jet stream. This hexagon-shaped pattern was an initial noticed in images from the Voyager i spacecraft and also has been more closely it was observed by the Cassini spacecraft since. Spanning about 20,000 mile (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers every hour) through a massive, rotating storm in ~ the center. Over there is no weather function like it almost everywhere else in the solar system.

Magnetosphere

Magnetosphere

Saturn's magnetic field is smaller sized than Jupiter's however still 578 times as powerful as Earth's. Saturn, the rings, and many of the satellites lie totally within Saturn's huge magnetosphere, the region of an are in i m sorry the actions of electrically charged particles is influenced more by Saturn's magnetic field than by the solar wind.

Aurorae take place when charged particles spiral into a planet's environment along magnetic ar lines. ~ above Earth, this charged particles come native the solar wind. Cassini showed that at least some the Saturn's aurorae are like Jupiter's and also are mainly unaffected through the solar wind. Instead, this aurorae are resulted in by a mix of corpuscle ejected native Saturn's moons and Saturn's magnetic field's fast rotation rate. However these "non-solar-originating" aurorae room not completely understood yet.

Resources

Resources


Day10.7 hours

Year29 earth years

Radius36,183.7 miles | 58,232 kilometers

Planet TypeGas giant

Moons53 confirmed | 29 provisional


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Everything you should know—and climate some—about the Cassini mission’s epic exploration of the Saturn system.

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This web page showcases our sources for those interested in learning much more about Saturn and also Titan. That includes activities that have the right to be excellent at home and also videos, animations, stories, and also articles.