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Saturn under the microscope: what do we know about the most beautiful planet in the solar system?

Saturn under the microscope: what do we know about the most beautiful planet in the solar system?

Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system in terms of mass and size, and the sixth planet in order of distance from the Sun. In the night sky, we see Saturn easily with the naked eye as a point of light with a steady glow. When we look at Saturn with a very small telescope, we see a planet with bright rings that maybe The most magnificent Mass is the solar system.

The name of this planet is taken from the god of agriculture and harvest in Roman mythology. This god with Kronos (Kronos), the Greek god is one. Saturn was considered the most distant planet known to ancient observers and therefore moved more slowly across the sky than other known planets.

Saturn’s distance from the Sun is 9.5 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and it takes about 29.5 Earth years to orbit the Sun.

Galileo, the Italian astronomer, was probably the first person to observe Saturn with a telescope in 1610 AD/989 AD. The appearance of Saturn was strange to Galileo, but the lack of precision of his instrument prevented him from recognizing the true nature of the planet’s rings.

Saturn’s volume is 60% of Jupiter’s and its mass is one third. This planet has the lowest average density among the known objects of the solar system. Its average density is so low that if there were an ocean we could put Saturn in, it would float in the ocean.

Both Saturn and Jupiter are similar to stars because their chemical composition is mostly hydrogen. Also, like Jupiter, the high pressure deep inside Saturn causes hydrogen to be liquid metallic there. However, Saturn’s structure and evolutionary history differ significantly from that of its larger neighbor, Jupiter.

Like the rest of the Jupiter-like planets (Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune), Saturn has a system of moons and rings that may provide clues to the origin and evolution of this planet as well as the Solar System. Saturn’s moon Titan has a remarkable atmosphere that sets it apart from other moons in the Solar System, denser than any of the Earth-like planets except Venus.

Basic Astronomical Information

Attributes Amounts
mass 5.683 × 1026 kg
Average distance from the sun 1,426,666,000 km (9.5 AU)
Eccentricity 0.054
The angle of the orbit with the ecliptic 2.49°
length of day and night 10.7 hours
throughout the year 29.45 times the Earth year
Average orbital speed 9.68 km/s
Average surface temperature 134 K
average radius 58,232 km
The number of moons 83
The number of rings 3 main loops and several low density loops

possibility of life

Saturn’s environment is not conducive to life as we know it. The temperature, pressure, and materials that make up this planet are too extreme and volatile for living things to cope with.

While Saturn is an unlikely place for life, the same is not true of some of its moons. Moons like Enceladus and Titan have internal oceans, and life is probably possible on these two moons.

Comparison of the size of Earth and Saturn

Size and distance

With a radius of 58,232 km, Saturn is 9 times wider than Earth. With an average distance of 1.4 billion kilometers, Saturn is 9.5 AU from the Sun. An astronomical unit (abbreviated AU) is the distance from the Sun to the Earth. In this distance, it takes about 80 minutes for sunlight to reach Saturn.

Orbit and rotation

Saturn has the second shortest day in the solar system. A day on Saturn is only 10.7 hours long (the length of time it takes for Saturn to rotate once), and one complete revolution of Saturn around the Sun (a year in Saturn time) is about 29.4 Earth years (10,756 Earth days ) Is.

The axis of this planet has a deviation of 26.73 degrees in relation to its orbit around the sun, which is similar to the 23.5 degrees of the Earth. This means that Saturn, like Earth, has different seasons.

the moons

Saturn has 83 moons, 53 of which have official names. Additionally, there is evidence of tens to hundreds of moons 40 to 500 meters in diameter in Saturn’s rings, which are not true moons. Titan (Titan), the planet’s largest moon, accounts for more than 90% of the mass in Saturn’s orbit, including the rings. The second largest moon of Saturn, Rhea (Rhea), may have a weak ring system of its own, along with a weak atmosphere.

Many of the other moons are small: 34 are less than 10 km in diameter, and another 14 are between 10 and 50 km in diameter.

Most of Saturn’s moons are named after the Titans of Greek mythology. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with a primary atmosphere, where a complex organic chemical reaction occurs. It is the only moon with hydrocarbon lakes.

Enceladus (Enceladus), one of Saturn’s moons, which appears to be chemically similar to comets, is often considered a potential habitat for microbial life.

rings

Scientists believe that Saturn’s rings are fragments of comets, asteroids, or fragments of moons that Saturn’s gravity crushed before reaching the planet.

They are made of billions of tiny pieces of ice and rock covered by other materials such as dust. The size of the particles in each ring generally ranges from tiny dust-sized ice grains to chunks the size of a house. A few particles are as big as a mountain. If you look at them from above Saturn’s clouds, the rings appear mostly white, and interestingly, each ring orbits the planet at a different speed.

Saturn’s ring system extends 282,000 km from the planet, however the vertical height is typically about 10 meters in the main rings. The rings, named alphabetically, are relatively close to each other, except for a 4,700-kilometer-wide gap called the Cassini segment that separates the A and B rings. The main rings are A, B and C. The D, E, F, and G rings are fainter and more recently discovered.

If we start at Saturn and move outwards, we see the D ring, C ring, B ring, Cassini sector, A ring, F ring, G ring, and finally the E ring. Farther away, the faint ring of Phoebe orbits Saturn’s moon Phoebe.

The structure of the planet Saturn
Saturn’s internal structure with its rings

Structure

Despite the fact that Saturn is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, most of the planet’s mass is not in the gas phase, because hydrogen becomes a non-ideal liquid when its density is higher than 0.01 g/cm3. This happens within a radius of Saturn that contains 99.9% of the planet’s mass. The temperature, pressure, and density inside Saturn all increase steadily toward the core, causing hydrogen to turn into a metal in the deeper layers.

Standard planetary models suggest that Saturn’s interior is similar to Jupiter, with a small rocky core surrounded by hydrogen and helium, with small amounts of various volatiles. Distortion analysis shows that Saturn is significantly denser than Jupiter and therefore contains a significant amount of material denser than hydrogen near its center. About 50% of the mass of Saturn’s central regions is hydrogen, while Jupiter contains approximately 67% hydrogen.

This core is similar in composition to Earth, but denser. This layer is surrounded by a thicker layer of liquid metallic hydrogen, followed by a liquid layer of molecular hydrogen saturated with helium, which gradually turns to gas with increasing altitude. The outermost layer is 1000 km and consists of gas.

The interior of Saturn is hot, the temperature in its core reaches 11,700 degrees Celsius, and it emits 2.5 times more energy into space than it receives from the Sun.

Diamond showers occur inside Saturn, as suggested in Jupiter and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune.

How to form

Saturn formed around the same time as the rest of the Solar System, about 4.5 billion years ago, when gravity pulled in swirling gas and dust to become this gas giant. About 4 billion years ago, Saturn settled into its current position in the outer part of the Solar System, where it is the sixth planet from the Sun. Like Jupiter, Saturn is made mostly of hydrogen and helium, the two main elements that make up the Sun.

level

As a gas giant, Saturn has no real surface. The planet has mainly rotating gases and liquids in its depths. While a spacecraft wouldn’t have a place to land on Saturn, it wouldn’t be able to pass through it unscathed either. The extreme pressures and temperatures in the depths of the planet will crush, melt and vaporize any spacecraft that intends to fly to the planet.

The surface of Saturn
A storm in Saturn

Saturn’s atmosphere

Saturn is covered in clouds that appear as faint streaks, jet streams, and storms. This planet has different shades of yellow, brown and gray.

The speed of winds in the upper atmosphere in the equatorial region reaches 500 meters per second. In contrast, the strongest hurricane winds on Earth have a speed of about 110 meters per second. And the pressure—the same pressure you feel when diving deep in water—is so strong that it turns the gas into a liquid.

Saturn’s north pole has an interesting atmospheric feature – a six-sided jet stream. This hexagonal pattern was first seen in Voyager 1 images and has since been observed more closely by the Cassini spacecraft. About 30,000 km wide, the hexagon is a turbulent jet stream with winds of about 322 km/h, centered on a massive, swirling storm. There is no weather feature like it anywhere else in the solar system.

Magnetosphere

Saturn’s magnetic field is smaller than that of Jupiter, but it is still 578 times that of Earth. Saturn, the rings, and many satellites lie entirely within Saturn’s massive magnetosphere, a region of space where the behavior of electrically charged particles is more influenced by Saturn’s magnetic field than by the solar wind.

Auroras occur when charged particles travel along magnetic field lines into a planet’s atmosphere. On Earth, these charged particles come from the solar wind. Cassini showed that at least some of Saturn’s auroras are Jupiter-like and largely unaffected by the solar wind. Instead, a combination of particles ejected from Saturn’s moons and the rapid rotation of Saturn’s magnetic field create the auroras. But these non-solar auroras are still not fully understood.

Saturn's magnetic field
Aurora at the north pole of Saturn

Interesting facts about the planet Saturn

  • Saturn is the farthest planet that can be seen with the naked eye.
  • The ancients, including the Babylonians, knew Saturn.
  • Saturn has more moons than any other planet in the solar system.
  • Like Jupiter, Saturn has elliptical storms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Saturn special?

Adorned with thousands of beautiful rings, Saturn is unique among the planets. It’s not the only planet with rings, but none are as spectacular or complex as Saturn’s.

Can humans survive on Saturn?

no The temperature, pressure and materials of this planet are such that living organisms cannot adapt to them.

Does it rain diamonds on Saturn?

Yes. About 10 million tons of diamonds fall on Saturn every year.

Can you walk on Saturn’s rings?

While they look like giant disks, they are by no means a continuous surface. Instead, they are made of millions of ice pieces, some as small as dust particles, others as big as buses.

Is Saturn hot or cold?

Saturn is significantly colder than Jupiter because it is farther from the Sun, and its average temperature is about -285 degrees Fahrenheit or -161 degrees Celsius.

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