SATURN

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Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and orbit at a distance of about 886 million miles (9.5AU) from the sun.

Saturn planet
Image1: The Saturn

It is the second largest planet in our solar system after giant gaseous planet Jupiter. It is big enough to cover nine earths across own diameter, that don’t include Saturn’s ring.

The planet’s most famous feature is its prominent ring system, which is composed mostly of ice particles, with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust.

Day and Year

The solar day on Saturn is the second shortest day in the solar system. It   just takes 10 hours 33 minutes to complete one rotation about own axis. It takes 29 earth’s years (10,585 earth days) to complete one orbit around the sun.

The axial tilt of Saturn is near by the Earth: only 26.73°. As a result, it experience significant seasonal changes.

Surface and Structure

Saturn is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. It has no solid surface like the Earth and Mars. When someone tries to land on Saturn, they will found no surface for landing or even they wouldn’t fly through unscathed either. The extreme pressure and temperature deep inside the planet crush, melt, and vaporise the spacecraft try to flying into the planet.

Saturn is the only planet of the Solar System that is less dense than water—about 30% less.  Although Saturn’s core is considerably denser than water, the average specific density of the planet is 0.69 g/cm3 due to the atmosphere. Surface gravity of Saturn is 1.065g (10.44 m/s2).

Structure with Rings
Image2: The Saturn’s Structure with Rings

                                     Saturn is made of mostly hydrogen and helium like Jupiter. Saturn has a solid rocky Core like Earth but more dense and it is estimated that Core is 9-22 times mass of the earth which correspond to diameter of about 25,000 km. Temperature at interior of the core is 11,700oC. The core is surrounded by thicker liquid metallic hydrogen layer, followed by a liquid layer of helium-saturated molecular hydrogen that gradually transitions to a gas with increasing altitude. The outermost layer spans 1,000 km and consists of gas.

Size and Distance

Size comparison
Image3: Size comparison of The Saturn and The Earth

Mean radius of Saturn is 58232 km; 9 times wider than earth.it is 95.159 times massive than earth with mass of 5.6834×1026 kg.

From an average distance of 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometres), Jupiter is 9.5 astronomical units away from the Sun. From this distance, it takes Sunlight 80 minutes to travel from the Sun to Saturn.

Distance and size Between sun And saturn
Image4: Distance and size Between sun And saturn

Atmosphere

Saturn’s atmosphere exhibits a faint banded pattern. The outer atmosphere of Saturn contains 96.3% molecular hydrogen and 3.25% helium by volume.

The head of the storm (bright area) passes the tail circling around the left limb
Image5: The head of the storm (bright area) passes the tail circling around the left limb

Saturn is perpetually covered with clouds with distinct layer and the composition of the clouds varies with depth. The upper cloud layer consists of ammonia ice with the temperature in the range 100–160 K and pressures extending between 0.5–2 bar. A band of ammonium hydrosulfied ice is intermixed in this layer lying in the pressure range 3–6 bar with temperatures of 190–235 K. Finally, the lower layers, where pressures are between 10–20 bar and temperatures are 270–330 K, contains a region of water droplets with ammonia in aqueous solution.

Orbital and escape velocity

The average orbital speed is 9.68 km/s (0.325 earth’s average orbital speed) and Saturn have escape velocity 35.5 km/s (3.14 earth’s escape velocity).

Magnetosphere

Polar aurorae on Saturn
Image6: Polar aurorae on Saturn

Saturn’s magnetosphere is second largest of any planet in the solar system after Jupiter. Saturn’s magnetosphere is filled with plasma originating from both the planet and its moons.

The interaction between Saturn’s magnetosphere and the solar wind generates bright oval aurorae around the planet’s poles observed in visible, infrared, and ultraviolet rays.

Moons

moon saturn
Image7: The moons of Saturn

Saturn has 53 know moons with an additional 29 moons awaiting confirmation of their discovery. Titan is the largest moon of Saturn comprises more than 90% of the mass in orbit around Saturn, including the rings. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with a major atmosphere, in which a complex organic chemistry occurs. It is the only moon with Hydrocarbon Lake.

 Saturn’s second-largest moon, Rhea may have a tenuous ring system of its own, along with tenuous atmosphere. Some more moons are Enceladus, Pandora, Prometheus etc.

Rings

Saturn’s ring is the best know planetary ring in the solar system, which makes visually unique. They are composed predominantly of water ice with trace amounts of tholin impurities, and a peppered coating of approximately 7% amorphous carbon.

saturn ring
Image8: The Saturn’s Ring

The rings extend from 6,630 to 120,700 kilometres (4,120 to 75,000 mi) outward from Saturn’s equator and average approximately 20 meters (66 ft) in thickness.

Saturn has the most spectacular ring system, with seven rings and several gaps and division between them. Starting at Saturn and moving outward, there is the D ring, C ring, B ring, Cassini Division, A ring, F ring, G ring, and finally, the E ring. The largest gap approx 4800 km between A ring and B ring is known as Cassini Division.

The Rings A, B, and C are the main rings and D, E, F and G are the fainter and recent discover.

It is interesting that for twice every 29 and half years the great planet Saturn appears ring less.

Habitability

Saturn does not support life.The temperature & pressure, and materials of the planet too extreme and volatile to adopt life.

But same is not true with Saturn’s moons. The Enceladus and Titan have complex organic chemistry and Hydrocarbon Lake, which could possible support the life.

Human Touch

From 1979 several spacecraft fly pass and orbit around the Saturn. Pioneer 11 made the first flyby of Saturn in September 1979, when it passed within 20,000 km of the planet’s cloud tops and studied Saturn’s rings, revealing the thin F-ring.

In early 80’s Voyager mission visited the Saturn system and sent back the first high-resolution images of the planet, its rings and satellites.

NASA’s Cassini Huygens spacecraft is the first spacecraft which orbit around the Saturn. In June 2004, it conducted a close flyby of phoebe, sending back high-resolution images and data.Cassini’s also flyby of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan and captured radar images of large lakes. Before releasing the Huygens probe the orbiter completed two flybys of Titan.Huygens descended onto the surface of Titan on 14 January 2005.

In April 2013 Cassini sent back images of a hurricane at the planet’s North Pole 20 times larger than those found on Earth, with winds faster than 530 km/h (330 mph) and On 15 September 2017, the CassiniHuygens spacecraft performed the “Grand Finale” of its mission: a number of passes through gaps between Saturn and Saturn’s inner rings and ended the mission.

Mythology

In ancient Roman religion the Saturn was a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. He was the son of Caelus and Terra. Saturn’s consort was his sister Ops with whom he fathered Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres and Vesta. The planet Saturn and the day of the week Saturday are both named after him.

In Hindu mythology The Saturn is known as Shani or sanaischara. He is the God of Justice in Hindu religion and delivers results to all, depending upon their thoughts, speech and deeds. He is the Son of Surya and Chhaya according to Hindu mythology.

Quick Discover :

saturn planet

Planet Type:

Gas gaint


Distance from the sun:

9.5 Astronomical unit


Radius:

58283 KM


Escape velocity:

35.5 km/s


Average orbital speed:

9.68 km/s


Equatorial rotational velocity:

35,500 km/h


Earth Year:

29 Earth Years


Earth Day:

10.7 hours


Axial tilt:

26.73o


Surface gravity:

10.44 m/s2


Mean density:

0.687 g/cm3


Mass:

5.7×1026 Kg


Moon:

89


Rings:

YES


Potential for Life:

No life

Image credit :

Image1: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Saturn_during_Equinox.jpg

image2: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Saturn_diagram.svg

Image3: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/Saturn%2C_Earth_size_comparison2.jpg

image4: universediscover/aniketkumar

Image5: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Saturn_Storm.jpg

image6:- https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Saturn%27s_double_aurorae_%28captured_by_the_Hubble_Space_Telescope%29.jpg

Image7: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/Saturn_System_Montage_-_GPN-2000-000439.jpg

Image8: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Saturn_from_Cassini_Orbiter_%282007-01-19%29.jpg

Author: ANIKET KUMAR

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