Saturn (planet)

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Saturn as the sixth planet from the sun in the solar system has been known since ancient times and makes it perhaps the last well known and obvious planets during those ancient times.  

Once telescopes were developed it was noticed to have a rather unusual appearance, as if it had ears, then realised later that it was a set of enormous rings in orbit around it. Hence the nick name "The ringed planet"

PIA11613_ip.jpg

Image of Saturn from the Cassini -Huygens space craft. image: JPL/NASA

Orbit basics:

  • Distance from sun: between 1,353, 572, 956 and 1, 513, 325, 783 km (why the variation?)
  • Orbital period (it's year):  29.447498 years
  • Moons(Natural Satellites): 53 named satellites and another
    • The largest is Titan,  then further discovered Mimas and Enceladus followed by  Hyperion (1848) and Phoebe (1898).
    • Prominent rings


Planet basics:

  • Type of planet: Gaseous giant
  • Length of day: 10h 39m 22.4s
  • Average radius: 60,268+-4 km
  • Mass: 5.68319 x 1026 kg
  • Gravity near cloud tops at equator: 10.44 m/s2  1.06458 g
  • Temperature of cloud tops: -139.15°C (134+-4 K), also quoted as -178 °C
  • Atmosphere: Thickness varies with depth to core, extreme wind speeds and planetary scale cyclonic storms.
  • Pressure: varies according to depth to core.
  • Atmospheric composition: 
    • Hydrogen H2
    • Helium He
    • Traces of ammonia, ethane, methane, propane (traces here means actually quite a lot compared with Earth given the size of the planet)



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