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Saturn

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Saturn as depicted in Danny Phantom

Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun, orbiting it at a distance of 1.426 billion kilometers. It is a yellow-colored Gas Giant, like Jupiter. It is orbited by several rings.

Physical Properties[edit]

Saturn has a diameter of 116,464 kilometers, which is around 9 times that of Earth. Inside Saturn is probably a core of iron, nickel, silicon and oxygen compounds, surrounded by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen, then a layer of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium and finally, an outer gaseous layer.

Moons[edit]

Saturn has the most moons.[1] 82 known moons orbit the planet; 53 of which are officially named. 12 of these were recently discovered in 2019. The largest moon is Titan, which is larger in volume than the planet Mercury. Titan has an atmosphere made of Methane, and has lakes on its surface that are made out of liquid Methane as well. Other moons, like Hyperion (diameter 360.3 kilometers)[2] and Phoebe (diameter 218.8 kilometers),[3] have lots of craters and are mostly hollow, and one of them, Mimas (diameter 393.4 kilometers),[4] has a giant crater called Herschel (named after William Herschel) that is 10 kilometers deep.[5] One of the moons, called Rhea (diameter 1,532.4 kilometers),[6] has a system of 3 faint rings.[7] The majority of Saturn's moons are smaller than the Earth's own moon and covered in water ice.

Ring System[edit]

Scientists believe that the rings are material left after a moon broke apart. A new hypothesized theory says that it was a very large moon, which crashed into the planet or another moon. This left a large amount of ice to form the rings, and also some of the moons, like Enceladus (diameter 504,2 kilometers)[9] which are thought to be made of ice.

Exploration[edit]

Thermal infrared images of Saturn from the VISIR instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (centre and right) and an amateur visible-light image (left) from Trevor Barry (Broken Hill, Australia) obtained on 19 January 2011 during the mature phase of the northern storm. The second image is taken at a wavelength that reveals the structures in Saturn’s lower atmosphere, showing the churning storm clouds and the central cooler vortex. The third image is sensitive to much higher altitudes in Saturn’s normally peaceful stratosphere, where we see the unexpected beacons of infrared emission flanking the central cool region over the storm.

On July 1, 2004, the Cassini−Huygens probe entered into orbit around Saturn. Before then, it flew close to Phoebe, taking very high resolution photos of its surface and collecting data. On December 25, 2004, the Huygens probe separated from the Cassini probe before moving down towards Titan's surface and landed there. It landed on a dry surface, but it found that large bodies of liquid exist on the moon. The Cassini probe continued to collect data from Titan and a number of the icy moons. It found evidence that the moon Enceladus had water erupting from its geysers. Cassini also proved, in July 2006, that Titan had hydrocarbon lakes, located near its north pole. In March 2007, it discovered a large hydrocarbon lake the size of the Caspian Sea near its north pole. The probe finally dived into Saturn's surface in September 2017.

References[edit]

  • http://www.astrophysicsspectator.com/topics/planets/GiantGaseousPlanets.html
  • https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/saturnfact.html
  • https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/science/moons/
  • https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/09mar_enceladus/
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6449081.stm


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