Saturn is the 6th planet closest to the Sun in our solar system, and has been known for centuries as the ringed planet. The rings were unique to the planet until 1977 when very faint rings were also discovered around Uranus and thereafter around Jupiter and Neptune.
While we now know due to the Voyager mission that all four of the giant planets have rings Saturn’s are the most impressive.
The structure of the planet consists of an atmosphere of ammonia, ammonia ice, ammonia sulfide, water, and ice clouds. Then below is liquid hydrogen, liquid metallic hydrogen and then the iron core.
Under the calm surface, the material is whipped around at speeds up to 1100 mph. The planet spins so quickly that the equator bulges out due to the centrifugal force giving it a squashed look.
Saturn’s rings extend for just over 46,000 miles, but are only a few miles deep, and while they seem to look like several wide zones, they are actually made up of thousands of divided narrow ringlets. These rings are made up of a few billion particles in orbit around the planet and some are as small as sand to the size of large rocks. The Cassini Division is a wide zone in the rings where the particles are scattered and been pulled into different orbits by Saturn’s moons.
Saturn has more moons than any other planet with approximately 63, the most notable is Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury. The main gases found in Titans thick orange atmosphere are nitrogen and methane, with traces of organic compounds including ethane and acetylene. These compounds form the crude early molecules found in living cells. There may be more advanced organic materials, but they may be underneath Titan’s hidden surface.
The planet is named after the god of agriculture from Roman mythology, the Greek counterpart is Cronus, who was the son of Uranus and Gaia, and also the father of Zeus (Jupiter). The name comes from the planet being the brightest planet seen from Earth.
While the planet has been known since anciet times,with a telescope Galileo Galilee was the first to observe it in 1610; to which he noted its odd appearance but intrigued by its shape.
The planet is approximately 74,000 miles in diameter, and is 95 times the size of Earths mass. It is also 746 million miles from Earth. The length of a year on Venus equals 29.5 Earth years, and a day lasts approximately 10.14 Earth hours.