Saturn Facts: Space And Planets

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and second largest planet of the Solar System in terms of diameter and mass. If compared, it is easy to see why Saturn and Jupiter have been designated as relatives. From atmospheric composition to rotation, these two planets are extremely similar. Because of these factors, Saturn was named after the father of the god Jupiter in Roman mythology.

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  • Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and last of the planets known to ancient civilizations.
  • It was known to the Babylonians and Far Eastern observer.
  • Saturn is one of five planets able to be seen with the naked eye.
  • It is also the fifth brightest object in the solar system.
  • In Roman mythology Saturn was the father of Jupiter, king of the gods.
  • This relationship makes sense given that the planets Saturn and Jupiter are similar in so many respects, including size and composition.
  • The Greek counterpart is known as Cronus.

  • The most common nickname for Saturn is "The Ringed Planet", a nickname arising from the large, beautiful and extensive ring system that encircles the planet.
  • These rings are mostly made from chunks of ice and carbonaceous dust.
  • They stretch out more than 12,700 km from the planet but are only a mere 20 meters thick.
  • Saturn gives off more energy than it receives from the Sun.
  • This unusual quality is believed to be generated from the gravitational compression of the planet combined with the friction from large amount of helium found within its atmosphere.

  • It takes Saturn 29.4 Earth years to orbit the Sun.
  • This slow movement against a backdrop of stars led to the planet being nicknamed "Lubadsagush" - or "oldest of the old" - by the ancient Assyrians.
  • Saturn has the fastest winds of any other planet in our solar system.
  • These winds have been measured at approximately 1,800 km per hour (1,100 miles per hour).
  • Saturn is the least dense planet in the solar system. It is made mostly of hydrogen and has a density which is less than water - which technically means that Saturn would float.
  • The layers of hydrogen get denser further into the planet, eventually becoming metallic and leading to a hot interior core.
  • Saturn has 150 moons and smaller moonlets.
  • All of these moons are frozen - the largest of which are Titan and Rhea.
  • The moon Enceladus also appears to have an ocean hidden below its frozen surface.
  • Saturn's moon Titan is the second largest moon in the Solar System, behind Jupiter's moon Ganymede.
  • It has a complex and dense atmosphere made mostly of nitrogen and is composed from water ice and rock.
  • The frozen surface of Titan has liquid methane lakes and a landscape which is covered with frozen nitrogen.
  • It is possible that Titan may be a harbour for life - but that life would not be similar to life on Earth. Saturn is the flattest of the eight planets.
  • With a polar diameter that is 90% of its equatorial diameter, Saturn is the flattest of all the planets.
  • This is because of the planet's low density and fast rotation speed - it takes Saturn 10 hours and 34 minutes to turn on its axis.
  • Saturn has oval shaped storms which are similar to those of Jupiter.
  • Scientists believe that the hexadiagonal-shaped pattern of clouds around Saturn's north pole may be a wave pattern in the upper clouds.
  • There is also a vortex over the south pole which resembles hurricane storms on Earth.
  • Saturn appears a pale yellow color because its upper atmosphere contains ammonia crystals.
  • Below this top layer of ammonia ice are clouds that are largely water ice.
  • Even further below that are layers of sulfur ice and cold hydrogen mixtures.
  • Saturn has been visited by four spacecraft.
  • These are Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and 2 and the Cassini-Huygen mission.
  • Cassini entered into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004 and continues to send back information about the planet, its ring and many moons.
  • The magnetic field on Saturn is slighter weaker than Earth's magnetic field. Saturn's magnetic field strength is around one-twentieth the strength of Jupiter's
  • Saturn is known as a gas giant, but scientists believe it has a solid rocky core surrounded by hydrogen and helium.
  • Saturn and Jupiter combined account for 92% of the entire planetary mass in the solar system.
  • The interior of Saturn is very hot, reaching temperatures of up to 11,700C (21,000 F).
  • Saturn is 1,424,600,000 km from the Sun. This is around 0.9 billion miles.