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Saturn
Saturn (2)
Image taken last month, from the robot Cassini spacecraft now approaching Saturn.
Diameter 120,536 km
74,898 mi.
Distance from the Sun 1.427 billion km
886 million mi.
Astronomical Unit 9.5
Nickname(s) Ring of Beauty
Ringed Planet
The Second Gas Giant
Beautiful Planet
Number of moons More than 60
Length of day 10 hours
Length of year 29 years
Atmosphere Components Hydrogen
Helium

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, it is the second largest planet of the solar system. Ice particles, silica rocks of all sizes from micrometers to tens of meters from the thousands of wide, thin rings that encircle Saturn. Its mass equals 95 Earths, but it takes up 752 times as much room.[1]

Saturn is often called the queen among planets because it is almost as big as Jupiter (Earth diameter size).

Roman God of AgricultureEdit

Cronus

A harvest of the gods.

Saturn was an Italian god of corn and harvest. He is identified with the Greek god Cronus, though he has more in common with some of the other Greek deities, such as Demeter.

AtmosphereEdit

Saturn's aurora

Saturn's aurora in Ultraviolet from Hubble.

Like the rest of the planet, the atmosphere of Saturn is made up approximately 75% hydrogen and 25% helium, with trace amounts of other substances like water ice and methane.

From a distance, in visible light, Saturn's atmosphere looks more boring than Jupiter; Saturn has cloud bands in its atmosphere, but they're pale orange and faded. This orange color is because Saturn has more sulfur in its atmosphere. In addition to the sulfur in Saturn's upper atmosphere, there are also quantities of nitrogen and oxygen. These atoms mix together into complex molecules we have here on Earth; you might know it as "smog".

Saturn has some of the fastest winds in the Solar System. Large white storms can form within the bands that circle the planet, but unlike Jupiter, these storms only last a few months and are absorbed into the atmosphere again.

The part of Saturn that was can see is the visible cloud deck. The clouds are made of ammonia, and sit about 100 km below the top of Saturn's troposphere (the tropopause), where temperatures dip down to -250 degrees C. Below this upper cloud deck is a lower cloud deck made of ammonium hydrosulphide clouds, located about 170 km below. Here the temperature is only -70 degrees C. The lowest cloud deck is made of water clouds, and located about 130 km below the tropopause. Temperatures here are 0 degrees; the freezing point of water.

Below the cloud decks pressures and temperatures increase with depth, and the hydrogen gas slowly changes to liquid. And below that, the helium forms a liquid as well.

RingsEdit

Voyager ring spokes

Dark spokes in Saturn's B ring, taken by the NASA Voyager 2 spacecraft August 22, 1981.

Saturn's rings are among the most recognizable features in the solar system. They spread over hundreds of thousands of kilometers, yet they are extremely thin—perhaps only 10 meters (about 30 feet) thick. The rings consist of billions of individual particles of mostly water ice which create waves, wakes and other structures.

Named alphabetically in order of their discovery, the order of the main rings outward from Saturn is D, C, B, A, F, G and E. There are also several other faint unnamed rings made up of very fine icy particles.

Moons of SaturnEdit

Saturn System

Dione (partly hidden); Enceladus and Rhea (upper left); Tethys and Mimas (lower right); Titan (top right).[2]

Saturn has 62 moons.

  1. S/2009 S 1
  2. Pan
  3. Daphnis
  4. Atlas
  5. Prometheus
  6. Pandora
  7. Epimetheus
  8. Janus
  9. Aegaeon
  10. Mimas
  11. Methone
  12. Anthe
  13. Pallene
  14. Enceladus
  15. Tethys
  16. Telesto
  17. Calypso
  18. Dione
  19. Helene
  20. Polydeuces
  21. Rhea
  22. Titan
  23. Hyperion
  24. Iapetus
  25. Kiviuq
  26. Ijraq
  27. Phoebe
  28. Paaliaq
  29. Skathi
  30. Albiorix
  31. S/2007 S 2
  32. Bebhionn
  33. Erriapus
  34. Skoll
  35. Siarnaq
  36. Tarqeq
  37. S/2004 S 13
  38. Greip
  39. Hyrrokkin
  40. Jarnsaxa
  41. Tarvos
  42. Mundilfari
  43. S/2006 S 1
  44. S/2004 S 17
  45. Bergelmir
  46. Narvi
  47. Suttungr
  48. Hati
  49. S/2004 S 12
  50. Farbauti
  51. Thrymr
  52. Aegir
  53. S/2007 S 3
  54. Bestla
  55. S/2004 S 7
  56. S/2006 S 3
  57. Fenrir
  58. Surtur
  59. Kari
  60. Ymir
  61. Loge
  62. Fornjot

The dozens of icy moons orbiting Saturn vary drastically in shape, size, surface age and origin. Some of these worlds have hard, rough surfaces, while others are porous bodies coated in a fine blanket of icy particles. All have greater or smaller numbers of craters, and many have ridges and valleys. Some, like Dione and Tethys, show evidence of tectonic activity, where forces from within ripped apart their surfaces. Many, like Rhea and Tethys, appear to have formed billions of years ago, while others, like Janus and Epimetheus, could have originally been part of larger bodies that broke up. The study and comparison of these moons tells us a great deal about the history of the Saturn System and of the solar system at large.[3]

ReferencesEdit