What Is Saturn Planet Known For? (History of Saturn Planet)

The History Of Saturn

History of Saturn planet- a beautiful Saturn planet image

Jupiter, with a diameter of 74,900 miles, is the only planet bigger than Saturn. The planet was named after the Roman god of agriculture. Saturn was known as “Cronus” to the Greeks and was Zeus’ father. Saturn, the sixth planet in the Solar System, is similarly derived from the word “Saturday.”

Saturn was recognized by our ancient predecessors, and it was the furthest known planet at the time. In 1610, Galileo saw Saturn but was unable to explain the visual rings that surrounded it. Between 1655 and 1656, Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens is credited for explaining the structure of Saturn’s rings. Huygens was also in charge of discovering Saturn’s moon Titan. More information about Saturn was given in 1675 when French astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini saw the separation between the two rings of Saturn and determined they were not connected.

Read More: Jupiter Planet History

The Orbit Of Saturn

Saturn’s orbit is elliptical, with the planet inclined 27 degrees off the perpendicular axis. The perihelion, or closest point to the sun, is roughly 838 million miles (1.3 billion km), whereas the aphelion, or furthest point from the sun, is approximately 934 million miles (1.3 billion km) (1.5 billion km).

Saturn’s orbit is very sluggish. It may complete one revolution around the sun every 10,759 Earth days, or about 29-30 years on Earth. Saturn’s rotation, on the other hand, is the second fastest after Jupiter. Saturn can finish a day in 10 hours and 39 minutes. When observed via a telescope, the planet appears somewhat flattened as a consequence of its quick revolution.

Expeditions To Saturn

Aside from Mars, humans have long been attracted to the planet Saturn due to its appearance. However, due to distance and the planet’s structure, only a few trips have been attempted to obtain an additional understanding of the planet.

The Pioneer-Saturn spacecraft was launched by the United States in 1974 to visit Jupiter and Saturn. In 1979, the spacecraft came within 13,000 miles of Saturn and was able to photograph the planet.

The spacecraft Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were used to launch the following voyages to Saturn in 1977. Voyager 1 traveled near Saturn in 1980, followed by Voyager 2 in 1981. These spacecraft were used to picture Saturn’s seventh ring and establish the presence of nine of Saturn’s satellites. The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft also returned data about Saturn’s satellite Titan’s nitrogenous atmosphere.

Following this voyage, the US launched the Cassini spacecraft in 1997. The Cassini-Huygens Mission included the Cassini spacecraft as well as a smaller probe named Huygens, which was dispatched by the European Space Agency. The Huygens probe was designed to study Titan, and it successfully landed on this satellite in January 2005.

The Cassini spacecraft was able to fly by the satellite Phoebe and return images of it. This mission was also in charge of proving the existence of liquid water on Enceladus.

The Cassini spacecraft’s mission to Saturn is expected to conclude in 2008 when it has orbited the planet seventy times.

Exploring A Day On Saturn

A day on Saturn is somewhat longer than a day on Jupiter, lasting 10 hours and 39 minutes on average. Saturn’s quick rotating period is predicted since it is a gas planet with no known solid surface. Saturn, upon discovery, would have all of the additional properties of the other gas planets. Saturn has the distinction of being less thick than water and so able to float. Saturn has its own magnetic field, which is far stronger than Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists do not think that life exists on Saturn because of its gaseous nature.

The planet’s atmosphere is mostly composed of hydrogen, with minor quantities of helium, ammonia, and methane. The concentration of hydrogen is 75%, whereas the concentration of the other gases is 25%. Its structure is divided into three levels. A spaceship would reach the first layer, which is a gaseous layer of hydrogen and helium that has merged with the surrounding atmosphere. The second layer is a dense fluid layer of hydrogen and helium. The third layer, which surrounds Saturn’s core, is a layer of metallic hydrogen in liquid form, similar to that of Jupiter. Saturn’s core is thought to contain solid material made of rock and iron, with a peak temperature of 21,150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Saturn does have a thick cloud cover, which is divided into bands. The ‘banded’ effect is caused by the many gases present and the temperature fluctuation on Saturn.

Another thing that becomes clear when examining Saturn is its temperature. Saturn’s temperature is lower than Earth’s because it is further from the Sun. The temperature at this layer may reach -285 degrees Fahrenheit at the maximum level of cloud cover. Higher, higher temperatures may be found below the bottom of Saturn’s cloud cover. This temperature change is caused by the planet’s tilt on its axis. As a result of the unequal heating of the Northern and Southern hemispheres, seasons are visible on Saturn. A season on Saturn, on the other hand, would endure between 7 and 8 Earth years.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the Great White Spot in 1990. (GWS). This storm on Saturn was a whirling expanse of wind and gas, similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. It is analogous to hurricanes or tornadoes on Earth and may cover the whole planet’s surface in a matter of weeks.

Saturn’s wind system is very active, with wind speeds exceeding 1,000 miles per hour near the Equator. The wind system in the Northern Hemisphere alternates between easterly and westerly directions at higher latitudes but blows easterly towards the Equator.

Saturn’s ring system is widely recognized. The rings are positioned around Saturn’s Equator and are made up of seven primary rings. Each of these seven big rings, however, is made up of smaller faint rings or ringlets. The ringlets are made up of ice and rock fragments. The particle sizes range from little normal size pebbles on Earth to ice-encased particles more than 10 feet in diameter. The rings are designated alphabetically (A ring, B ring, C ring, etc.) in the order in which they were found.

The diameter of Saturn’s biggest ring is 180,000 miles. The Cassini Split (2,920 miles) exists between the A and B rings and is the largest division or gap in the ring system.

Rings of Saturn
Table 1: The Ring System Of Saturn. (Space Today 2004)

The Satellites Of Saturn

Saturn is accompanied by 47 satellites. At least 25 of these satellites are 6 miles in diameter. Saturn’s main moons are detailed below.

  • Mimas

Mimas, Saturn’s first moon, is largely made of rock and coated with water ice. Its surface is studded with impact craters and basins, and it is not fully spherical.

The Herschel Impact Crater is Mimas’ most renowned impact crater. With a circumference of around 80 miles, this impact crater covers 33 percent of Mimas’ surface (130 km). Aside from craters, the surface of Mimas features several chasms or steep valleys.

In September 1789, William Herschel found the satellite Mimas. It has a 392 km diameter and circles Saturn every 23 hours.

  • Enceladus

Enceladus, Saturn’s second moon, was discovered in 1789. It is not as cratered as Mimas, although it does have a few impact craters. It is extremely reflective (100%) and one of Saturn’s brightest moons.

Enceladus’ surface is highly diverse. Enceladus has several smooth, flat plains, fissures, and rough terrains. This satellite’s craters are less than 35 kilometers in diameter.

Enceladus also has water ice zones. Enceladus, which has a diameter of 504 km, circles Saturn every 32.9 hours.

  • Tethys

Tethys, Saturn’s third moon, was discovered by Cassini in 1684 and is bigger than Enceladus. Tethys has a diameter of 1060 km with a surface that is nearly entirely covered in ice. Tethys has two primary landscapes: impact craters (which appear as bright and dark patches from space) and valleys.

Odysseus is the biggest impact crater on Tethys, occupying 40% of the planet’s surface. Ice moving is gradually resurfacing these craters.

The Ithaca Chasma is Tethys’ most significant valley. It has a width of 100 kilometers and a length of nearly 2,000 kilometers. With these measurements, the Ithaca Chasma covers more than 75% of Tethys’ surface.

Tethys is 294,660 kilometers from Saturn and circles the planet every 1.89 days.

  • Dione

Dione, Saturn’s fourth satellite, is the third densest of Saturn’s moons. It has a surface similar to Tethys, with craters and plains scattered throughout. Dione, on the other hand, has dazzling ice cliffs. These ice cliffs are at least 100 meters tall.
Dione circles Saturn every 2.75 days and has a diameter of 1123km.

  • Titan

Titan, Saturn’s sixth satellite, is the biggest of the planet’s satellites. Only Jupiter’s satellite Ganymede is bigger, with a diameter of 5,150 kilometers. Christiaan Huygens, an astronomer, discovered it in 1655.

The dense cloud that surrounds Titan is one of its most intriguing aspects. As a result, it was determined to be the only known satellite with its own atmosphere made up mostly of gases such as nitrogen (98 percent), methane, and carbon dioxide.

Titan is covered with a rather smooth topography made up largely of water and rocks. The Huygens probe’s data has shown regions of ice “sand” hills and plains. It also includes topography from Earth, such as volcanoes and sand dunes. The Cassini-Huygens mission discovered massive sand dunes around Saturn’s equator.

Some scientists think Titan may have “seas” of liquid methane on its surface, despite the fact that they have never been detected. Every 15.9 days, it circles Saturn.

The following are the most frequent satellites, along with the year they were discovered:

The Moons of Saturn
S/2003 S 12003
Table 2: The Common Satellites Of Saturn. (Space Today 2004)

Statistics About Saturn

Discovered ByKnown by the Ancients
Date of DiscoveryUnknown
Average Distance from the SunMetric: 1,426,725,400 km
English: 885,904,700 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.4267254 x 109 km (9.53707 A.U.)
By Comparison: 9.53707 x Earth
Perihelion (closest)Metric: 1,349,467,000 km
English: 838,519,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.349467 x 109 km (9.021 A.U.)
By Comparison: 9.177 x Earth
Aphelion (farthest)Metric: 1,503,983,000 km
English: 934,530,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.503983 x 109 km (10.054 A.U.)
By Comparison: 9.886 x Earth
Equatorial RadiusMetric: 60,268 km
English: 37,449 miles
Scientific Notation: 6.0268 x 104 km
By Comparison: 9.449 x Earth
Equatorial CircumferenceMetric: 378,675 km
English: 235,298 miles
Scientific Notation: 3.78675 x 105 km
VolumeMetric: 827,130,000,000,000 km3
Scientific Notation: 8.2713 x 1014 km3
By Comparison: 763.6 x Earth
MassMetric: 568,510,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Scientific Notation: 5.6851 x 1026 kg
By Comparison: 95.16 x Earth
DensityMetric: 0.70 g/cm3
By Comparison: 0.127 x Earth
Surface AreaMetric: 43,466,000,000 km2
English: 16,782,000,000 square miles
Scientific Notation: 4.3466 x 1010 km2
By Comparison: 85.22 x Earth
Equatorial Surface GravityMetric: 7.207 m/s2
English: 23.64 ft/s2
By Comparison: If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 74 pounds on Saturn.
Escape VelocityMetric: 127,760 km/h
English: 79,390 mph
Scientific Notation: 35,490 m/s
By Comparison: Escape velocity of Earth is 25,022 mph.
Sidereal Rotation Period (Length of Day)0.44401 Earth days
10.656 hours
By Comparison: 0.445 x Earth
Sidereal Orbit Period (Length of Year)29.4 Earth years
10755.7 Earth days
Mean Orbit VelocityMetric: 34,821 km/h
English: 21,637 mph
Scientific Notation: 9,672.4 m/s
By Comparison: 0.865 x Earth
Orbital Eccentricity.0541506
By Comparison: 3.24 x Earth
Orbital Inclination to Ecliptic2.484 degrees
Equatorial Inclination to Orbit26.73 degrees
By Comparison: 1.14 x Earth
Orbital CircumferenceMetric: 8,725,000,000 km
English: 5,421,000,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 8.725 x 109 km
By Comparison: 9.439 x Earth
Effective TemperatureMetric: -178 °C
English: -288 °F
Scientific Notation: 95 K
Atmospheric ConstituentsHydrogen, Helium
Scientific Notation: H2, He
By Comparison: Earth’s atmosphere consists mostly of N2 and O2.
Table 3: Concise statistics on the planet Saturn (N.A.S.A. 2006)


Encyclopedia Britannica. “Saturn.” 2006. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 2006 http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-54286

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A). “Saturn: Facts & Figures.” 2006 http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Saturn&Display=Facts

Space Today Online. “Exploring Saturn.” 2004 http://www.spacetoday.org/SolSys/Saturn/SaturnHistory.html

Spinrad, Hyron. “Saturn.” World Book Online Reference Center. 2004. World Book, Inc. http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/saturn_worldbook.html

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