The Planet Saturn

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The Planet Saturn is the second largest planet. It is the next planet after Jupiter. Saturn is named after a Roman God and is famous for its beautiful rings.

Planet Saturn

It has at least 62 moons. These include Titan, Hyperion, Mimas, Enceladus, Rhea, and Phoebe.

Facts about Planet Saturn

* Diameter: 120,660 km. It is about 10 times larger than our Earth

* Temperature: –178°C

* Distance from Earth: At its closest, Saturn is 1190.4 million km

* Atmosphere: Hydrogen and helium

* Surface: consists of liquid and gas.

* Rotation of its axis: 10 hours, 40 min, 24 sec

* Rotation around the Sun: 29.5 Earth years

Saturn Space Probes:

Saturn has been visited in flybys in the 1970s by NASA’s Pioneer 11 and in 1980-81 by the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

The Cassini spacecraft, launched in 1997 arrived at Saturn in July 2004. The Huygens probe explored the moon -Titan.

Atmosphere

Saturn is one of the windiest places in the Solar System. The wind speeds have reached 1800 km per hour at the equator.

Surface

Saturn occasionally has storms on its surface, similar to those of Jupiter. The Great White Spot is a massive storm in the planet’s northern hemisphere that has been observed about once every Saturnian year since 1876.

Rings

The ring system consists of 5 divisions (parts): G, F, A, B and C rings, listed from outside to inside. The F and G rings are thin and difficult to see, while the A, B and C rings are broad and easily visible. The Cassini division is the large gap between the A ring and and the B ring.

Life

Scientists don’t believe there is life on Saturn, however it may be possible on ones of its moons.

Name

Saturn is named for the Roman god of agriculture. The Greek equivalent was Cronos, father of Zeus.

History

Planet Saturn was discovered by the ancients. Date of Discovery is unknown.

In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first to observe Saturn through a telescope. In 1659, Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens proposed that Saturn was surrounded by a thin, flat ring. In 1675, Italian-born astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini discovered a division between what are now called the A and B rings.

In 1979, Pioneer 11 was the first spacecraft to reach Saturn, flying within 22,000 km (13,700 miles) of the cloud tops. In 1981, Voyager 2 uses Saturn’s powerful gravity as an interplanetary slingshot and is placed on a path toward Uranus, then Neptune, then out of the solar system.

In 1994, the Hubble Space Telescope finds evidence of surface features beneath the hazy atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

In 2004, Cassini was the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn. In 2005, the Huygens probe successfully landed on Titan, returning images of the surface.

 Planet Saturn Did You KnowDid you know?

  • Saturn’s rings are made of billions of ice particles.
  • Its surface consists of liquid and gas.

Books

Mission to Saturn: Cassini and the Huygens Probe by David M. Harland
From Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

Lifting Titan’s Veil : Exploring the Giant Moon of Saturn by Ralph Lorenz , Jacqueline Mitton
From Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

Planet Saturn Links

References:

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