IntroductionEssentially all of the gas giants(Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus) have rings, but none are as famous or as prominent as Saturn’s rings.
Saturn’s rings aren’t actually not solid rings, but billions of small ice, dust, and rock particles orbiting it’s equator, which from a distance, look like complete rings. It is one of the 5 planets visible with the naked eye. Since then many have been fascinated by Saturn, its rings, and its many moons. Facts Saturn is almost nothing like Earth. Since it’s almost 10x further from the Sun than Earth is, the temperature is a lot colder, reaching more than halfway to absolute zero. Even though Saturn is 9x larger than Earth as the 2nd largest planet, its gravity is only slightly stronger, due to the fact it’s mostly comprised of hydrogen and helium. This makes saturn buoyant enough to float in water. It is mostly made of hydrogen and helium, unlike Earth’s oxygen and iron rich composition.
Saturn’s volume is 750x that of Earth’s, while wind speeds in its upper atmosphere can reach up to 1600ft/s, and combined with rising heat is the reason for Saturn’s iconic orange yellowish tint. Saturn is also the second largest planet, second only to Jupiter. Saturn takes 29.5 years to make a full orbit around the sun, while the rotation time of it varies since it is comprised of gasses. This makes it incredibly difficult to have a definitive rotation time because of different clouds of gas, but the area around the equator of Saturn takes about 10 hours and 14 minutes, while the area above and below it take 10 hours and 39 minutes. The diameter of Saturn is 108,728 kilometers. Saturn’s surface area is 16.5 billions square miles, and it is also the flattest planet, as its polar diameter is 90% of its equatorial diameter.
Saturn also experiences storms similar to those on Jupiter, although they aren’t as well known. An example of these is what Saturn has on its poles, the storm on the north pole is shaped like a hexagon, while, the one at the south is shaped like a swirling vortex. Discovery Although it is impossible to find out who first discovered Saturn, most scientists think it was first observed by the Assyrians, and they surmised it was a god, with serpents that had wrapped themselves around it. Then, a few centuries later other civilizations started to observe Saturn, eventually Rome, who actually gave it its modern name, and also because of its rings and conspicuous nature, they assumed it was a religious symbol. But still, a scientific discovery and study of Saturn would yet to occur for centuries. StudyThe first to observe Saturn scientifically through a telescope was Galileo Galilei. He was surprised to find a pair of objects near it, and he thought they were three separate planets consisting a main body and 2 others rotating it. A couple of decades later, Christiaan Huygens, while using a much more powerful telescope, proposed that Saturn was actually surrounded by a ring.
This has become the most plausible and widely accepted theory. In 1675, Jean Dominique Cassini discovered that Saturn’s rings were divided into two larger sections. Voyager 1 and 2 both captured pictures of Saturn in 1981.
Pioneer 11 flew by Saturn in 1973 and discovered 2 new moons, almost running straight into them once in 1979, while the Huygens probe descended through one of Saturn’s moons, Titan’s, atmosphere. Later on, Cassini, a spacecraft named after Jean Dominique Cassini himself, was launched in 1997 to study Saturn and it’s moons, and it provided large quantities of new information on Saturn’s magnetic environment, it’s larger moons, and on September 15, 2017, 20 years after its initial launch, it dove into Saturn’s atmosphere(deliberately) This is one the most recent Saturn missions, and it discovered many new things during its lifespan. This makes a total of four spacecraft that have visited the planet.
RingsSaturn has many brilliant rings, which are perhaps its most famous and popular feature. They are made of small particles of dust smaller than pebbles to objects larger than mountains. Saturn’s rings are divided into 7 groups, each divided by a steep drop in the amount of particles in the area. They are kept in place by the orbit of moons, pushing them aside or absorbing them. Saturn can also sometimes cast a shadow on the rings, creating the impression that they had a sharp cut through them.
But Saturn’s rings certainly are not the largest rings in the universe, as we have already discovered another much larger ring system around J1470B that are almost 200x larger than Saturn’s. They are the largest ring system around a planet in the solar system. CompositionAlthough saturn is mostly comprised of hydrogen and helium. Saturn has a lot of layers, in order of furthest to closest to the core:- Upper atmosphere ; clouds- Layered atmosphere ; hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia- Mantle ; water, ammonia, methane ice- Silicate: iron and nickel MoonsSaturn has 62 known moons, but only 53 being named. The first Saturnian moon ever discovered was in 1655, which was also happened to be the largest moon, which was named Titan, and it is so large that it can affect the orbit of other Saturnian moons. Enceladus has actually shown signs of volcanic activity, and even signs of being habitable for life.
Four of Saturn’s moons orbit around saturn in places called Lagrangian points. These points are 60 degrees in front of a larger moon orbiting the same path. Helene and Polydeuces, two of Saturn’s moons are the Lagrangian points of one of another Saturnian moon, Dione. Saturn has many small “icy” moons as well. Sixteen of the moons are actually tidally locked, meaning they always face Saturn. A couple of Saturn’s moons: TitanEnceladusIapetus TethysMimas