Saturn

Kid's illustration of the Cassini spacecraft flying past Saturn and its moons.
Saturn isn't the only planet with rings. But they are the prettiest.

Jewel of the Solar System

Saturn is the sixth planet from our sun. It is called the "jewel of the solar system" because of its beautiful rings. It is the second largest planet in our solar system.

SATURN CHALLENGE
How do you think Saturn's
rings formed? Why doesn't
the ice melt?
Color image of Saturn

Saturn is named for the Roman god of agriculture.

WHAT'S IT LIKE ON SATURN?
Saturn is a lot like Jupiter. It is made up mostly of gas, including hydrogen, helium and methane. It doesn't have a solid surface.

Saturn has clouds stripes and storms like Jupiter, but they are harder to see. The clouds we see are mostly yellow and white. One scientist compared them to a lemon meringue pie. A person -- or spacecraft -- dropping through the icy clouds would be crushed from the pressure -- the same kind you feel when you dive into the deep end of a pool. The pressure is so powerful it squeezes gas into liquid. Even a metal spacecraft would be smashed. It is not a nice place for humans.

Saturn has the most spectacular rings of any planet in the solar system. They are made of billions of small chunks of ice and rock. The chunks can be as small as a grain of sugar or as big as a house. Scientists think the rings formed when moons and other objects were torn apart by Saturn's powerful gravity. The rings would look mostly white if you looked at them from the cloud tops of Saturn.

Saturn has at least 53 moons. In 2004, a probe from Earth landed on Titan, the solar system's second largest moon.


More: