Saturn is arguably the most beautiful planet in our solar system. And definitely it is the most distinctive — thanks to the Rings of Saturn! The ringed planet is sixth closest planet to the Sun. Saturn is the second largest planet after Jupiter. Today we are presenting some interesting facts about the planet with rings.
1. What makes Saturn’s rings?
Saturn’s ring system is primarily made of ice particles, with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust. The rings stretch out more than 282,000 km from the planet. However, these rings are very thin: only about 20 meters thick.
2. Saturn is visible to naked eyes
Five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible from Earth with naked eyes. Of these, Saturn is the most distant. Saturn is also the fifth brightest object in our skies. Only the Sun, the Moon, Venus and Jupiter look are brighter than Saturn.
3. Saturn spins faster than Earth
Saturn takes about 10.7 hours to fully rotate on its axis — that constitutes a Saturn Day. However, the planet takes 29.4 years to complete one orbit around the Sun.
4. Other planets also have ring system
Saturn is not the only planet with ring system — but Saturn’s ring system is the most spectacular. Apart from Saturn, in the solar system, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have rings around them. Their rings are, however, not prominent.
5. So far, only four spacecrafts have visited Saturn
Pioneer 11, Voyagers 1 and Voyager 2 missions flew by the Saturn. However, Cassini–Huygens spacecraft entered Saturn’s orbit and remained there from 2004 to 2017. During this time, Cassini orbited Saturn 294 times! At the end of its mission, Cassini was intentionally vaporized in Saturn’s atmosphere in 2017.
6. Saturn gets its name from a Roman god
Like other planets, Saturn is named after the Roman god of harvest and time, the equivalent of the Greek god of time, Cronos.
7. Saturn is the flattest planet
The polar diameter of Saturn is 90% of its equatorial diameter. That makes it a very flat planet. Low density and high speed of rotation causes Saturn’s poles to flatten and equator to bulge.
8. Saturn is a gas giant
We already know that all the known planets beyond Mars are mainly composed of gases. Saturn is among these planets, which are called gas giants. By volume, Saturn is composed of 96.3% Hydrogen and 3.25% Helium.
9. Saturn is the King of Moons!
Saturn has the most number of moons. So far, 82 moons of Saturn have been discovered. Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the second-largest moon in the solar system (after Jupiter’s Ganymede). Titan is actually bigger that the planet Mercury — and it is the only moon in the solar system to have substantial atmosphere.
10. Discovery of Saturn
The planet has been known to mankind since ancient times. Galileo Galilei in 1610 made telescopic observations. Robert Hooke (the person who is credited for discovering cells) in 1666 noted the shadows cast by Saturn on its rings and vice versa.
Statistics about Planet Saturn
|Saturn’s radius||58,232 km (36,184 mi)|
|Saturn’s surface area||4.27×1010 km2 (83.703 Earths)|
|Saturn’s volume||8.2713×1014 km3 (763.59 Earths)|
|Jupiter’s mass||5.6834×1026 kg (95.159 Earths)|
|Mean density||0.687 g/cm³|
|Perihelion (closest distance to Sun)||1,352.55 million km|
|Aphelion (farthest distance from Sun)||1,514.50 million km|
|Length of solar day (single rotation on its axis)||10h 33m 38s|
|Length of year (single revolution around the Sun)||29.4571 Earth years|
|Equatorial inclination to orbit (axial tilt)||26.73° (to orbit)|
|Rotation speed at Equator||9.87 km/s (6.13 mi/s; 35,500 km/h)|
|Surface gravity||10.44 m/s2|
|Escape velocity||35.5 km/s (22.1 mi/s)|
|Natural satellite||So far, Saturn has 82 known natural satellites including Titan, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea|
|Jupiter’s composition||Hydrogen (96.3%)
Hydrogen deuteride (0.0110%)
traces of water