Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is one of four “gas giants.” It is easily recognized by its set of rings. The rings were originally discovered by Galileo in 1610, although he did not know what he was looking at and instead described Saturn ashaving “ears.” Saturn’srings are made mostly ofice and rock. Chunks range in size from a penny to a car. The rings have a total diameter of over 185,000 miles, though individual rings are no more than 6/10th of a mile thick. Therings have visible divisions, the largest of which is called the Cassini Division.
Saturn is the most flattened planet in the solar system likely caused by its fast rotation and gaseous composition.
How big is this planet?
Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system. It possesses nearly 764 times the volume of planet Earth.This means 764 Earths could fit inside Saturn if itwere hollow. Saturn is 95 times as massive as Earth and has 93 times its surface area. Saturn, however, is the only planet in the solar system that is less dense than water. If there were a body of water large enough, Saturn could float.
How long does it take to orbit the sun?
What is its gravity like?
Gravitational force on Saturn is 108% the gravitational force on Earth. A 100 pound Earthling would weigh about 108 pounds on Saturn.
How far is it from the sun? From the Earth?
Saturn is located an average of 855,000,000 miles from the sun. At its closest point, Earth and Saturn are more than 744,000,000 miles apart. At their farthest, the two planets are more than a billion miles apart.
What is its atmosphere like?
The atmosphere of Saturn is 96 percent hydrogen and three percent helium. The upper clouds in Saturn’s atmosphere are composed of ammonia while the lower layer clouds are composed of ammonium hydrosulfide or water. Saturn is thought to be the solar system’s windiest planet. Winds near the equator are thought to blow in excess of 1,100 miles per hour, almost four times the fastest winds ever recorded on Earth. Like Jupiter, Saturn often shows signs of storm activity. It is the only planet in the solar system known to have a polar vortex. A polar vortex is a persistent cyclone-like storm near a planet’s polar region(s) .The temperature in Saturn’s polar vortex is about 65 degrees warmer than the average temperature onSaturn. In 2006, a NASA spacecraft confirmed the presence of a hurricane-like storm in Saturn’s southern pole. The storm was noteworthy because of its visible eye wall. Previous to this discovery, eyewalls had only been observed in hurricanes on Earth.
What’s the temperature like?
Similar to other gas giants, the temperatures are the lowest at the highest cloud layers. Here, the temperature averages about -285 F. If you were descend through the cloud layers, the temperature would grow warmer (albeit certainly not warm).
How many moons does it have?
Saturn has at least 61 moons, though many of the moons are very small (6 miles in diameter). Saturn’s largest moon isnamed Titan. Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury, is the only moon in the solar system to have its own atmosphere. It makes up more than 90 percent of all mass orbiting Saturn.
* Saturn’s strongmagnetic field is probably generated by electrical currents in conductive layers near the planet’s rotating core.
*The surface temperature on the moon Titan averages -289 F.