Saturn Planet Profile
|Distance from Sun:||890.8 million mi|
|Rings:||(30 or more – in 7 groups)|
|Polar Diameter:||108,728 km|
|Orbital period||29 years|
|Mass:||5.68 × 10^26 kg (95 Earths)|
|Length of day:||0d 10h 42m|
|Surface area:||16.49 billion mi²|
|Moons:||(62 including Titan, Enceladus, Iapetus & Rhea)|
|First Recorded:||8th Century BCE by the Assyrians|
As the 6th largest planet from the Sun, Saturn holds the distinction of also having the second largest diameter and mass in our Solar System.
Both Jupiter and Saturn have been designated as “relatives” as they share similar atmospheric makeups and rotations. Saturn was named after the Roman father of the god Jupiter.
Saturn is most well-known for its many rings and has been called “The Ringed Planet.” These beautiful and exquisite rings that encircle the planet are made from chunks of dust and ice, and stretch out over 12,700 km from the planet.
When viewed from space, they make Saturn one of the most beautiful planets, even though the rings are only around 20 meters thick.
The atmosphere of Saturn is made up of around 96% hydrogen, 4% helium, and trace amounts of acetylene, ethane, ammonia, methane, and phosphine.
Saturn has a layer of atmosphere that has up to 1,800 km wind speeds. These are considered to be some of the fastest speeds in the Solar System.
While it isn’t visible, Saturn does have a horizontally banded cloud pattern that are wider in the equator than even those found on Jupiter’s equator. They were unknown until the 1970’s Voyager missions.
One of the unique features of Saturn’s atmosphere is the “great white spots” that are the storms on Saturn.
These are similar to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, except they don’t live as long. Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we are now able to observe some of these storms and they seem to only appear once every Saturn orbit.
Another area that is similar to Jupiter’s is Saturn’s interior, which is thought to be made up of three layers.
The inside layer is between 10-20 times more massive as the Earth and is considered to be a rocky core. It’s surrounded by a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen and the outermost layer is made of molecular hydrogen.
The only difference between the two planets is the thickness of the layers.
Like Jupiter, Saturn also has a high gravitational compression. This means that the planet’s gravity compresses enough energy into the planet that it makes more energy than it receives from the Sun.
If you combine Jupiter and Saturn together, they make up 92% of the entire mass of the Solar System. Saturn’s interior is incredibly hot and can reach temperatures up to 21,000 degrees F (11,700 degrees C)
Facts about Saturn
- Saturn is one of only five planets that can be seen with the naked eye.
- Saturn, like Jupiter, gives off more energy than it gets from the sun.
- For Saturn to orbit the Sun, it takes a comparison of 29.4 Earth years.
- Of all of the planets in our Solar System, Saturn is the least dense due to being made of mainly hydrogen.
- Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, is the second largest moon in the Solar System.
- Most planets have a circular diameter, however, Saturn is the flattest of all of the eight planets.
- The color of Saturn seems to be a pale yellow color due to the ammonia crystals in its upper atmosphere.
- Saturn’s magnetic field is just a bit weaker than that of Earth’s magnetic field.