|Pronunciation|| / /(|
|Aphelion||1,514.50 million km (10.1238 AU)|
|Perihelion||1,352.55 million km (9.0412 AU)|
|1,433.53 million km (9.5826 AU)|
Average orbital speed
|9.68 km/s (6.01 mi/s)|
|Known satellites||62 with formal designations; innumerable additional moonlets.|
|58,232 km (36,184 mi)|
|0.687 g/cm3 (0.0248 lb/cu in) (less than water)|
|35.5 km/s (22.1 mi/s)|
Sidereal rotation period
| 10h 33m 38s+ 1m 52s|
− 1m 19s
Equatorial rotation velocity
|9.87 km/s (6.13 mi/s; 35,500 km/h)|
|26.73° (to orbit)|
North pole right ascension
|40.589°; 2h 42m 21s|
North pole declination
|−0.55 to +1.17|
|14.5″ to 20.1″ (excludes rings)|
|59.5 km (37.0 mi)|
|Composition by volume||by volume: |
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius about nine times that of Earth.It has only one-eighth the average density of Earth, but with its larger volume Saturn is over 95 times more massive. Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture; its astronomical symbol (♄) represents the god's sickle.
A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.
The Solar System is the gravitationally bound planetary system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of the objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest are the eight planets, with the remainder being smaller objects, such as the five dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly—the moons—two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.
Saturn's interior is probably composed of a core of iron–nickel and rock (silicon and oxygen compounds). This core is surrounded by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen, an intermediate layer of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium, and finally a gaseous outer layer. Saturn has a pale yellow hue due to ammonia crystals in its upper atmosphere. Electrical current within the metallic hydrogen layer is thought to give rise to Saturn's planetary magnetic field, which is weaker than Earth's, but has a magnetic moment 580 times that of Earth due to Saturn's larger size. Saturn's magnetic field strength is around one-twentieth of Jupiter's. 1,800 km/h (1,100 mph; 500 m/s), higher than on Jupiter, but not as high as those on Neptune. In January 2019, astronomers reported that a day on the planet Saturn has been determined to be 10h 33m 38s+ 1m 52s
− 1m 19s , based on studies of the planet's C Ring.
An iron–nickel alloy or nickel–iron alloy, abbreviated FeNi or NiFe, is a group of alloys consisting primarily of the elements nickel (Ni) and iron (Fe). It is the main constituent of the "iron" planetary cores and iron meteorites. The acronym NiFe refers to various chemical reactions that involve an iron–nickel catalyst or component, or in geology, to the general composition of planetary cores.
Silicon is a chemical element with symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.
Oxygen is the chemical element with the symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen group on the periodic table, a highly reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing agent that readily forms oxides with most elements as well as with other compounds. By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula O
2. Diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere. As compounds including oxides, the element makes up almost half of the Earth's crust.
The planet's most famous feature is its prominent ring system that is composed mostly of ice particles, with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust. At least 62 moonsare known to orbit Saturn, of which 53 are officially named. This does not include the hundreds of moonlets in the rings. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and the second-largest in the Solar System, is larger than the planet Mercury, although less massive, and is the only moon in the Solar System to have a substantial atmosphere.
The rings of Saturn are the most extensive ring system of any planet in the Solar System. They consist of countless small particles, ranging from μm to m in size, that orbit about Saturn. The ring particles are made almost entirely of water ice, with a trace component of rocky material. There is still no consensus as to their mechanism of formation. Although theoretical models indicated that the rings were likely to have formed early in the Solar System's history, new data from Cassini suggest they formed relatively late.
Cosmic dust, also called extraterrestrial dust or space dust, is dust which exists in outer space, or has fallen on Earth. Most cosmic dust particles are between a few molecules to 0.1 µm in size. Cosmic dust can be further distinguished by its astronomical location: intergalactic dust, interstellar dust, interplanetary dust and circumplanetary dust.
The moons of Saturn are numerous and diverse, ranging from tiny moonlets less than 1 kilometer across to the enormous Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury. Saturn has 62 moons with confirmed orbits, 53 of which have names and only 13 of which have diameters larger than 50 kilometers, as well as dense rings with complex orbital motions of their own. Seven Saturnian moons are large enough to be ellipsoidal in shape, yet only two of those, Titan and Rhea, are currently in hydrostatic equilibrium. Particularly notable among Saturn's moons are Titan, the second-largest moon in the Solar System, with a nitrogen-rich Earth-like atmosphere and a landscape featuring dry river networks and hydrocarbon lakes found nowhere else in the solar system; and Enceladus since its chemical composition is similar to that of comets. In particular, Enceladus emits jets of gas and dust, which could indicate the presence of liquid water under its south pole region, and may have a global ocean below its surface.
Saturn is a gas giant because it is predominantly composed of hydrogen and helium. It lacks a definite surface, though it may have a solid core. km versus 54,364 km. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, the other giant planets in the Solar System, are also oblate but to a lesser extent. The combination of the bulge and rotation rate means that the effective surface gravity along the equator, m/s2, is 74% that at the poles and is lower than the surface gravity of Earth. However, the equatorial escape velocity of nearly 8.96 km/s is much higher than that for Earth. 36Saturn's rotation causes it to have the shape of an oblate spheroid; that is, it is flattened at the poles and bulges at its equator. Its equatorial and polar radii differ by almost 10%: 60,268
A gas giant is a giant planet composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. Gas giants are sometimes known as failed stars because they contain the same basic elements as a star. Jupiter and Saturn are the gas giants of the Solar System. The term "gas giant" was originally synonymous with "giant planet", but in the 1990s it became known that Uranus and Neptune are really a distinct class of giant planet, being composed mainly of heavier volatile substances. For this reason, Uranus and Neptune are now often classified in the separate category of ice giants.
Flattening is a measure of the compression of a circle or sphere along a diameter to form an ellipse or an ellipsoid of revolution (spheroid) respectively. Other terms used are ellipticity, or oblateness. The usual notation for flattening is f and its definition in terms of the semi-axes of the resulting ellipse or ellipsoid is
A geographical pole is either of the two points on a rotating body where its axis of rotation intersects its surface. As with Earth's North and South Poles, they are usually called that body's "north pole" and "south pole", one lying 90 degrees in one direction from the body's equator and the other lying 90 degrees in the opposite direction from the equator.
Saturn is the only planet of the Solar System that is less dense than water—about 30% less. g/cm3 due to the atmosphere. Jupiter has 318 times Earth's mass, 0.69 and Saturn is 95 times Earth's mass. Together, Jupiter and Saturn hold 92% of the total planetary mass in the Solar System.Although Saturn's core is considerably denser than water, the average specific density of the planet is
The planetary core consists of the innermost layer(s) of a planet. Cores of specific planets may be entirely solid or entirely liquid, or may be a mixture of solid and liquid layers as is the case in the Earth. In the Solar System, core size can range from about 20% (Moon) to 85% of a planet's radius (Mercury).
Relative density, or specific gravity, is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a given reference material. Specific gravity usually means relative density with respect to water. The term "relative density" is often preferred in scientific usage. It is defined as a ratio of density of particular substance with that of water.
Earth mass (ME or M⊕, where ⊕ is the standard astronomical symbol for planet Earth) is the unit of mass equal to that of Earth. The current best estimate for Earth mass is M⊕ = 5.9722×1024 kg, with a standard uncertainty of 6×1020 kg (relative uncertainty 10−4). It is equivalent to an average density of 5515 kg⋅m−3.
Despite consisting mostly of hydrogen and helium, most of Saturn's mass is not in the gas phase, because hydrogen becomes a non-ideal liquid when the density is above g/cm3, which is reached at a radius containing 99.9% of Saturn's mass. The temperature, pressure, and density inside Saturn all rise steadily toward the core, which causes hydrogen to be a metal in the deeper layers. 0.01
In the physical sciences, a phase is a region of space, throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, index of refraction, magnetization and chemical composition. A simple description is that a phase is a region of material that is chemically uniform, physically distinct, and (often) mechanically separable. In a system consisting of ice and water in a glass jar, the ice cubes are one phase, the water is a second phase, and the humid air is a third phase over the ice and water. The glass of the jar is another separate phase.
In chemistry, an ideal solution or ideal mixture is a solution with thermodynamic properties analogous to those of a mixture of ideal gases. The enthalpy of mixing is zero as is the volume change on mixing by definition; the closer to zero the enthalpy of mixing is, the more "ideal" the behaviour of the solution becomes. The vapor pressure of the solution obeys Raoult's law, and the activity coefficient of each component is equal to one.
Standard planetary models suggest that the interior of Saturn is similar to that of Jupiter, having a small rocky core surrounded by hydrogen and helium with trace amounts of various volatiles. km. This is surrounded by a thicker liquid metallic hydrogen layer, followed by a liquid layer of helium-saturated molecular hydrogen that gradually transitions to a gas with increasing altitude. The outermost layer spans 1,000 km and consists of gas.This core is similar in composition to Earth, but more dense. Examination of Saturn's gravitational moment, in combination with physical models of the interior, has allowed constraints to be placed on the mass of Saturn's core. In 2004, scientists estimated that the core must be 9–22 times the mass of Earth, which corresponds to a diameter of about 25,000
Saturn has a hot interior, reaching 11,700 °C at its core, and it radiates 2.5 times more energy into space than it receives from the Sun. Jupiter's thermal energy is generated by the Kelvin–Helmholtz mechanism of slow gravitational compression, but such a process alone may not be sufficient to explain heat production for Saturn, because it is less massive. An alternative or additional mechanism may be generation of heat through the "raining out" of droplets of helium deep in Saturn's interior. As the droplets descend through the lower-density hydrogen, the process releases heat by friction and leaves Saturn's outer layers depleted of helium. These descending droplets may have accumulated into a helium shell surrounding the core. Rainfalls of diamonds have been suggested to occur within Saturn, as well as in Jupiter and ice giants Uranus and Neptune.
The outer atmosphere of Saturn contains 96.3% molecular hydrogen and 3.25% helium by volume.The proportion of helium is significantly deficient compared to the abundance of this element in the Sun. The quantity of elements heavier than helium (metallicity) is not known precisely, but the proportions are assumed to match the primordial abundances from the formation of the Solar System. The total mass of these heavier elements is estimated to be 19–31 times the mass of the Earth, with a significant fraction located in Saturn's core region.
Trace amounts of ammonia, acetylene, ethane, propane, phosphine and methane have been detected in Saturn's atmosphere. NH
4SH) or water. Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun causes methane photolysis in the upper atmosphere, leading to a series of hydrocarbon chemical reactions with the resulting products being carried downward by eddies and diffusion. This photochemical cycle is modulated by Saturn's annual seasonal cycle.
Saturn's atmosphere exhibits a banded pattern similar to Jupiter's, but Saturn's bands are much fainter and are much wider near the equator. The nomenclature used to describe these bands is the same as on Jupiter. Saturn's finer cloud patterns were not observed until the flybys of the Voyager spacecraft during the 1980s. Since then, Earth-based telescopy has improved to the point where regular observations can be made.
The composition of the clouds varies with depth and increasing pressure. In the upper cloud layers, with the temperature in the range 100–160 K and pressures extending between 0.5–2 bar, the clouds consist of ammonia ice. Water ice clouds begin at a level where the pressure is about 2.5 bar and extend down to 9.5 bar, where temperatures range from 185–270 K. Intermixed in this layer is a band of ammonium hydrosulfide ice, lying in the pressure range 3–6 bar with temperatures of 190–235 K. Finally, the lower layers, where pressures are between 10–20 bar and temperatures are 270–330 K, contains a region of water droplets with ammonia in aqueous solution.
Saturn's usually bland atmosphere occasionally exhibits long-lived ovals and other features common on Jupiter. In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged an enormous white cloud near Saturn's equator that was not present during the Voyager encounters, and in 1994 another smaller storm was observed. The 1990 storm was an example of a Great White Spot, a unique but short-lived phenomenon that occurs once every Saturnian year, roughly every 30 Earth years, around the time of the northern hemisphere's summer solstice.Previous Great White Spots were observed in 1876, 1903, 1933 and 1960, with the 1933 storm being the most famous. If the periodicity is maintained, another storm will occur in about 2020.
The winds on Saturn are the second fastest among the Solar System's planets, after Neptune's. Voyager data indicate peak easterly winds of 500 m/s (1,800 km/h). In images from the Cassini spacecraft during 2007, Saturn's northern hemisphere displayed a bright blue hue, similar to Uranus. The color was most likely caused by Rayleigh scattering. Thermography has shown that Saturn's south pole has a warm polar vortex, the only known example of such a phenomenon in the Solar System. Whereas temperatures on Saturn are normally −185 °C, temperatures on the vortex often reach as high as −122 °C, suspected to be the warmest spot on Saturn.
A persisting hexagonal wave pattern around the north polar vortex in the atmosphere at about 78°N was first noted in the Voyager images. 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long, which is longer than the diameter of the Earth. The entire structure rotates with a period of 10h 39m 24s (the same period as that of the planet's radio emissions) which is assumed to be equal to the period of rotation of Saturn's interior. The hexagonal feature does not shift in longitude like the other clouds in the visible atmosphere. The pattern's origin is a matter of much speculation. Most scientists think it is a standing wave pattern in the atmosphere. Polygonal shapes have been replicated in the laboratory through differential rotation of fluids.The sides of the hexagon are each about
HST imaging of the south polar region indicates the presence of a jet stream, but no strong polar vortex nor any hexagonal standing wave.NASA reported in November 2006 that Cassini had observed a "hurricane-like" storm locked to the south pole that had a clearly defined eyewall. Eyewall clouds had not previously been seen on any planet other than Earth. For example, images from the Galileo spacecraft did not show an eyewall in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.
The south pole storm may have been present for billions of years. km/h.This vortex is comparable to the size of Earth, and it has winds of 550
Cassini observed a series of cloud features nicknamed "String of Pearls" found in northern latitudes. These features are cloud clearings that reside in deeper cloud layers.
Saturn has an intrinsic magnetic field that has a simple, symmetric shape – a magnetic dipole. Its strength at the equator – 0.2 gauss (20 µT) – is approximately one twentieth of that of the field around Jupiter and slightly weaker than Earth's magnetic field. As a result, Saturn's magnetosphere is much smaller than Jupiter's. When Voyager 2 entered the magnetosphere, the solar wind pressure was high and the magnetosphere extended only 19 Saturn radii, or 1.1 million km (712,000 mi), although it enlarged within several hours, and remained so for about three days. Most probably, the magnetic field is generated similarly to that of Jupiter – by currents in the liquid metallic-hydrogen layer called a metallic-hydrogen dynamo. This magnetosphere is efficient at deflecting the solar wind particles from the Sun. The moon Titan orbits within the outer part of Saturn's magnetosphere and contributes plasma from the ionized particles in Titan's outer atmosphere. Saturn's magnetosphere, like Earth's, produces aurorae.
The average distance between Saturn and the Sun is over 1.4 billion kilometers (9 AU). With an average orbital speed of 9.68 km/s, it takes Saturn 10,759 Earth days (or about 29 1⁄2 years) to finish one revolution around the Sun. As a consequence, it forms a near 5:2 mean-motion resonance with Jupiter. The elliptical orbit of Saturn is inclined 2.48° relative to the orbital plane of the Earth. The perihelion and aphelion distances are, respectively, 9.195 and 9.957 AU, on average. The visible features on Saturn rotate at different rates depending on latitude and multiple rotation periods have been assigned to various regions (as in Jupiter's case).
Astronomers use three different systems for specifying the rotation rate of Saturn. System I has a period of 10 hr 14 min 00 sec (844.3°/d) and encompasses the Equatorial Zone, the South Equatorial Belt and the North Equatorial Belt. The polar regions are considered to have rotation rates similar to System I. All other Saturnian latitudes, excluding the north and south polar regions, are indicated as System II and have been assigned a rotation period of 10 hr 38 min 25.4 sec (810.76°/d). System III refers to Saturn's internal rotation rate. Based on radio emissions from the planet detected by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, System III has a rotation period of 10 hr 39 min 22.4 sec (810.8°/d). System III has largely superseded System II.
A precise value for the rotation period of the interior remains elusive. While approaching Saturn in 2004, Cassini found that the radio rotation period of Saturn had increased appreciably, to approximately 10 hr 45 min 45 sec (± 36 sec). The latest estimate of Saturn's rotation (as an indicated rotation rate for Saturn as a whole) based on a compilation of various measurements from the Cassini, Voyager and Pioneer probes was reported in September 2007 is 10 hr 32 min 35 sec.
In March 2007, it was found that the variation of radio emissions from the planet did not match Saturn's rotation rate. This variance may be caused by geyser activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. The water vapor emitted into Saturn's orbit by this activity becomes charged and creates a drag upon Saturn's magnetic field, slowing its rotation slightly relative to the rotation of the planet.
An apparent oddity for Saturn is that it does not have any known trojan asteroids. These are minor planets that orbit the Sun at the stable Lagrangian points, designated L4 and L5, located at 60° angles to the planet along its orbit. Trojan asteroids have been discovered for Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. Orbital resonance mechanisms, including secular resonance, are believed to be the cause of the missing Saturnian trojans.
Saturn has 62 known moons, 53 of which have formal names.In addition, there is evidence of dozens to hundreds of moonlets with diameters of 40–500 meters in Saturn's rings, which are not considered to be true moons. Titan, the largest moon, comprises more than 90% of the mass in orbit around Saturn, including the rings. Saturn's second-largest moon, Rhea, may have a tenuous ring system of its own, along with a tenuous atmosphere.
Many of the other moons are small: 34 are less than 10 km in diameter and another 14 between 10 and 50 km in diameter. Traditionally, most of Saturn's moons have been named after Titans of Greek mythology. Titan is the only satellite in the Solar System with a major atmosphere, in which a complex organic chemistry occurs. It is the only satellite with hydrocarbon lakes.
On 6 June 2013, scientists at the IAA-CSIC reported the detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the upper atmosphere of Titan, a possible precursor for life.On 23 June 2014, NASA claimed to have strong evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Titan came from materials in the Oort cloud, associated with comets, and not from the materials that formed Saturn in earlier times.
Saturn's moon Enceladus, which seems similar in chemical makeup to comets,has often been regarded as a potential habitat for microbial life. Evidence of this possibility includes the satellite's salt-rich particles having an "ocean-like" composition that indicates most of Enceladus's expelled ice comes from the evaporation of liquid salt water. A 2015 flyby by Cassini through a plume on Enceladus found most of the ingredients to sustain life forms that live by methanogenesis.
In April 2014, NASA scientists reported the possible beginning of a new moon within the A Ring, which was imaged by Cassini on 15 April 2013.
Saturn is probably best known for the system of planetary rings that makes it visually unique. 6,630 to 120,700 kilometers (4,120 to 75,000 mi) outward from Saturn's equator and average approximately 20 meters (66 ft) in thickness. They are composed predominantly of water ice with trace amounts of tholin impurities, and a peppered coating of approximately 7% amorphous carbon. The particles that make up the rings range in size from specks of dust up to 10 m. While the other gas giants also have ring systems, Saturn's is the largest and most visible.The rings extend from
There are two main hypotheses regarding the origin of the rings. One hypothesis is that the rings are remnants of a destroyed moon of Saturn. The second hypothesis is that the rings are left over from the original nebular material from which Saturn formed. Some ice in the E ring comes from the moon Enceladus's geysers.The water abundance of the rings vary radially, with the outermost ring A being the most pure in ice water. This abundance variance may be explained by meteor bombardment.
Beyond the main rings at a distance of 12 million km from the planet is the sparse Phoebe ring, which is tilted at an angle of 27° to the other rings and, like Phoebe, orbits in retrograde fashion.
Some of the moons of Saturn, including Pandora and Prometheus, act as shepherd moons to confine the rings and prevent them from spreading out.Pan and Atlas cause weak, linear density waves in Saturn's rings that have yielded more reliable calculations of their masses.
The observation and exploration of Saturn can be divided into three main phases. The first era was ancient observations (such as with the naked eye), before the invention of the modern telescopes. Starting in the 17th century, progressively more advanced telescopic observations from Earth have been made. The third phase is visitation by space probes, by either orbiting or flyby. In the 21st century, observations continue from Earth (including Earth-orbiting observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope) and, until its 2017 retirement, from the Cassini orbiter around Saturn.
Saturn has been known since prehistoric timesand in early recorded history it was a major character in various mythologies. Babylonian astronomers systematically observed and recorded the movements of Saturn. In ancient Greek, the planet was known as Phainon, and in Roman times it was known as the "star of Saturn". In ancient Roman mythology, the planet Phainon was sacred to this agricultural god, from which the planet takes its modern name. The Romans considered the god Saturnus the equivalent of the Greek god Cronus; in modern Greek, the planet retains the name Cronus—Κρόνος: Kronos.)
The Greek scientist Ptolemy based his calculations of Saturn's orbit on observations he made while it was in opposition. 土星). This was based on Five Elements which were traditionally used to classify natural elements.In Hindu astrology, there are nine astrological objects, known as Navagrahas. Saturn is known as "Shani" and judges everyone based on the good and bad deeds performed in life. Ancient Chinese and Japanese culture designated the planet Saturn as the "earth star" (
In ancient Hebrew, Saturn is called 'Shabbathai'. : עֲזָאזֵל, translit. ʿAgyal), and its darker spirit (demon) is Zȃzȇl (Hebrew : זאזל, translit. Zazl). Zazel has been described as a great angel, invoked in Solomonic magic, who is "effective in love conjurations". In Ottoman Turkish, Urdu and Malay, the name of Zazel is 'Zuhal', derived from the Arabic language (Arabic : زحل, translit. Zuhal).Its angel is Cassiel. Its intelligence or beneficial spirit is 'Agȋȇl (Hebrew
Saturn's rings require at least a 15-mm-diameter telescopeto resolve and thus were not known to exist until Galileo first saw them in 1610. He thought of them as two moons on Saturn's sides. It was not until Christiaan Huygens used greater telescopic magnification that this notion was refuted. Huygens discovered Saturn's moon Titan; Giovanni Domenico Cassini later discovered four other moons: Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys and Dione. In 1675, Cassini discovered the gap now known as the Cassini Division.
No further discoveries of significance were made until 1789 when William Herschel discovered two further moons, Mimas and Enceladus. The irregularly shaped satellite Hyperion, which has a resonance with Titan, was discovered in 1848 by a British team.
In 1899 William Henry Pickering discovered Phoebe, a highly irregular satellite that does not rotate synchronously with Saturn as the larger moons do.Phoebe was the first such satellite found and it takes more than a year to orbit Saturn in a retrograde orbit. During the early 20th century, research on Titan led to the confirmation in 1944 that it had a thick atmosphere – a feature unique among the Solar System's moons.
Pioneer 11 made the first flyby of Saturn in September 1979, when it passed within 20,000 km of the planet's cloud tops. Images were taken of the planet and a few of its moons, although their resolution was too low to discern surface detail. The spacecraft also studied Saturn's rings, revealing the thin F-ring and the fact that dark gaps in the rings are bright when viewed at high phase angle (towards the Sun), meaning that they contain fine light-scattering material. In addition, Pioneer 11 measured the temperature of Titan.
In November 1980, the Voyager 1 probe visited the Saturn system. It sent back the first high-resolution images of the planet, its rings and satellites. Surface features of various moons were seen for the first time. Voyager 1 performed a close flyby of Titan, increasing knowledge of the atmosphere of the moon. It proved that Titan's atmosphere is impenetrable in visible wavelengths; therefore no surface details were seen. The flyby changed the spacecraft's trajectory out from the plane of the Solar System.
Almost a year later, in August 1981, Voyager 2 continued the study of the Saturn system. More close-up images of Saturn's moons were acquired, as well as evidence of changes in the atmosphere and the rings. Unfortunately, during the flyby, the probe's turnable camera platform stuck for a couple of days and some planned imaging was lost. Saturn's gravity was used to direct the spacecraft's trajectory towards Uranus.
The probes discovered and confirmed several new satellites orbiting near or within the planet's rings, as well as the small Maxwell Gap (a gap within the C Ring) and Keeler gap (a 42 km wide gap in the A Ring).
The Cassini–Huygens space probe entered orbit around Saturn on 1 July 2004. In June 2004, it conducted a close flyby of Phoebe, sending back high-resolution images and data. Cassini's flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, captured radar images of large lakes and their coastlines with numerous islands and mountains. The orbiter completed two Titan flybys before releasing the Huygens probe on 25 December 2004. Huygens descended onto the surface of Titan on 14 January 2005.
Starting in early 2005, scientists used Cassini to track lightning on Saturn. The power of the lightning is approximately 1,000 times that of lightning on Earth.
In 2006, NASA reported that Cassini had found evidence of liquid water reservoirs no more than tens of meters below the surface that erupt in geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. These jets of icy particles are emitted into orbit around Saturn from vents in the moon's south polar region.Over 100 geysers have been identified on Enceladus. In May 2011, NASA scientists reported that Enceladus "is emerging as the most habitable spot beyond Earth in the Solar System for life as we know it".
Cassini photographs have revealed a previously undiscovered planetary ring, outside the brighter main rings of Saturn and inside the G and E rings. The source of this ring is hypothesized to be the crashing of a meteoroid off Janus and Epimetheus. In July 2006, images were returned of hydrocarbon lakes near Titan's north pole, the presence of which were confirmed in January 2007. In March 2007, hydrocarbon seas were found near the North pole, the largest of which is almost the size of the Caspian Sea. In October 2006, the probe detected an 8,000 km diameter cyclone-like storm with an eyewall at Saturn's south pole.
From 2004 to 2 November 2009, the probe discovered and confirmed eight new satellites. 530 km/h (330 mph). On 15 September 2017, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft performed the "Grand Finale" of its mission: a number of passes through gaps between Saturn and Saturn's inner rings. The atmospheric entry of Cassini ended the mission.In April 2013 Cassini sent back images of a hurricane at the planet's north pole 20 times larger than those found on Earth, with winds faster than
The continued exploration of Saturn is still considered to be a viable option for NASA as part of their ongoing New Frontiers program of missions. NASA previously requested for plans to be put forward for a mission to Saturn that included an atmospheric entry probe and possible investigations into the habitability and possible discovery of life on Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus.
Saturn is the most distant of the five planets easily visible to the naked eye from Earth, the other four being Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. (Uranus and occasionally 4 Vesta are visible to the naked eye in dark skies.) Saturn appears to the naked eye in the night sky as a bright, yellowish point of light. The mean apparent magnitude of Saturn is 0.46 with a standard deviation of 0.34.Most of the magnitude variation is due to the inclination of the ring system relative to the Sun and Earth. The brightest magnitude, −0.55, occurs near in time to when the plane of the rings is inclined most highly, and the faintest magnitude, 1.17, occurs around the time when they are least inclined. It takes approximately 29.5 years for the planet to complete an entire circuit of the ecliptic against the background constellations of the zodiac. Most people will require an optical aid (very large binoculars or a small telescope) that magnifies at least 30 times to achieve an image of Saturn's rings, in which clear resolution is present. Twice every Saturnian year (roughly every 15 Earth years), the rings briefly disappear from view, due to the way in which they are angled and because they are so thin. Such a "disappearance" will next occur in 2025, but Saturn will be too close to the Sun for any ring-crossing observation to be possible.
Saturn and its rings are best seen when the planet is at, or near, opposition, the configuration of a planet when it is at an elongation of 180°, and thus appears opposite the Sun in the sky. A Saturnian opposition occurs every year—approximately every 378 days—and results in the planet appearing at its brightest. Both the Earth and Saturn orbit the Sun on eccentric orbits, which means their distances from the Sun vary over time, and therefore so do their distances from each other, hence varying the brightness of Saturn from one opposition to the next. Saturn also appears brighter when the rings are angled such that they are more visible. For example, during the opposition of 17 December 2002, Saturn appeared at its brightest due to a favorable orientation of its rings relative to the Earth,even though Saturn was closer to the Earth and Sun in late 2003.
From time to time Saturn is occulted by the Moon (that is, the Moon covers up Saturn in the sky). As with all the planets in the Solar System, occultations of Saturn occur in "seasons". Saturnian occultations will take place 12 or more times over a 12-month period, followed by about a five-year period in which no such activity is registered.Australian astronomy experts Hill and Horner explain the seasonal nature of Saturnian occultations:
This is the result of the fact that the moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun – and so most of the time, the moon will pass above or below Saturn in the sky, and no occultation will occur. It is only when Saturn lies near the point that the moon’s orbit crosses the "plane of the ecliptic" that occultations can happen – and then they occur every time the moon swings by, until Saturn moves away from the crossing point.
A ring system is a disc or ring orbiting an astronomical object that is composed of solid material such as dust and moonlets, and is a common component of satellite systems around giant planets. A ring system around a planet is also known as a planetary ring system.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a giant planet with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. Jupiter and Saturn are gas giants; the other two giant planets, Uranus and Neptune, are ice giants. Jupiter has been known to astronomers since antiquity. It is named after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of −2.94, bright enough for its reflected light to cast shadows, and making it on average the third-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus.
Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second-largest natural satellite in the Solar System. It is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object in space, other than Earth, where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.
A natural satellite or moon is, in the most common usage, an astronomical body that orbits a planet or minor planet.
Rhea is the second-largest moon of Saturn and the ninth-largest moon in the Solar System. It is the second smallest body in the Solar System for which precise measurements have confirmed a shape consistent with hydrostatic equilibrium, after dwarf planet Ceres. It was discovered in 1672 by Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
The Cassini–Huygens mission, commonly called Cassini, was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites. The Flagship-class robotic spacecraft comprised both NASA's Cassini probe, and ESA's Huygens lander which landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit. The craft were named after astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christiaan Huygens.
Enceladus is the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. It is about 500 kilometers (310 mi) in diameter, about a tenth of that of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Enceladus is mostly covered by fresh, clean ice, making it one of the most reflective bodies of the Solar System. Consequently, its surface temperature at noon only reaches −198 °C (−324 °F), far colder than a light-absorbing body would be. Despite its small size, Enceladus has a wide range of surface features, ranging from old, heavily cratered regions to young, tectonically deformed terrains.
This article provides a timeline of the Cassini–Huygens mission. Cassini was a collaboration between the United States' NASA, the European Space Agency ("ESA"), and the Italian Space Agency ("ASI") to send a probe to study the Saturnian system, including the planet, its rings, and its natural satellites. The Flagship-class unmanned robotic spacecraft comprised both NASA's Cassini probe, and ESA's Huygens lander which was designed to land on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit. The craft were named after astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christiaan Huygens.
The outer planets are those planets in the Solar System beyond the asteroid belt, and hence refers to the gas giants and ice giants, which are in order of their distance from the Sun:
Carolyn C. Porco is an American planetary scientist who explores the outer solar system, beginning with her imaging work on the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in the 1980s. She led the imaging science team on the Cassini mission in orbit around Saturn and September 15, 2017 when Cassini was de-orbited to burn up in Saturn's upper atmosphere. She is an expert on planetary rings and the Saturnian moon, Enceladus.
The magnetosphere of Saturn is the cavity created in the flow of the solar wind by the planet's internally generated magnetic field. Discovered in 1979 by the Pioneer 11 spacecraft, Saturn's magnetosphere is the second largest of any planet in the Solar System after Jupiter. The magnetopause, the boundary between Saturn's magnetosphere and the solar wind, is located at a distance of about 20 Saturn radii from the planet's center, while its magnetotail stretches hundreds of Saturn radii behind it.
The New Frontiers program is a series of space exploration missions being conducted by NASA with the purpose of researching several of the Solar System bodies, including the dwarf planet Pluto.
The exploration of Saturn has been solely performed by crewless probes. Three missions were flybys, which formed an extended foundation of knowledge about the system. The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft, launched in 1997, was in orbit from 2004 to 2017.
Extraterrestrial liquid water is water in its liquid state that naturally occurs outside Earth. It is a subject of wide interest because it is recognized as one of the key prerequisites for life as we know it and thus surmised as essential for extraterrestrial life.
The habitability of natural satellites is a measure of the potential of natural satellites to have environments hospitable to life. Habitable environments do not necessarily harbor life. Planetary habitability is an emerging study which is considered important to astrobiology for several reasons, foremost being that natural satellites are predicted to greatly outnumber planets and that it is hypothesized that habitability factors are likely to be similar to those of planets. There are, however, key environmental differences which have a bearing on moons as potential sites for extraterrestrial life.
Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) was a joint NASA–ESA proposal for an exploration of Saturn and its moons Titan and Enceladus, where many complex phenomena were revealed by Cassini. With an estimated NASA cost of $2.5 billion (FY07), TSSM was proposed to launch in 2020, get gravity assists from Earth and Venus, and arrive at the Saturn system in 2029. The 4-year prime mission would include a two-year Saturn tour, a 2-month Titan aero-sampling phase, and a 20-month Titan orbit phase.
Journey to Enceladus and Titan (JET) is an astrobiology mission concept to assess the habitability potential of Enceladus and Titan, moons of Saturn.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Saturn:
The Greek name of the planet Saturn is Kronos. The Titan Cronus was the father of Zeus, while Saturn was the Roman God of agriculture.See also the Greek article about the planet.
Latin: Angel summoned for love invocations
a Solomonic angel of love rituals