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Saturn - The Ringed Giant

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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 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.

The pressure -- the same kind you feel when you dive into the deep end of a pool-- 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. Before this, Titan's surface was hidden by smog.

Challenge Graphic
SATURN CHALLENGE How do you think Saturn's rings formed? Why doesn't the ice melt?

Cassini
Missions to Saturn
Featured Mission: Cassini
Cassini and the Huygens probe are giving us the best look ever at Saturn and its moon Titan. The spacecraft arrived in July 2004.
More Missions to Saturn
Past Missions
Go Figure!
30
Number of Earth years it takes Saturn to orbit the sun. A Saturnian year.
1,100 mph
Wind speeds at Saturn's equator. About 1,800 kph. Earth's most violent tornadoes hit 200 mph.
70,700 mph
Speed of the Cassini spacecraft as it traveled to Saturn.
3,200,000,000
Approximate distance in kilometers that the Cassini spacecraft will have traveled when it reached Saturn in July 2004. About 2,000,000,000 miles.
5,600
Number of years it would take to travel the same distance as Cassini at 60 mph.
-217°F
Temperature near the cloud tops of Saturn. About -139°C.
52
Number of named moons orbiting Saturn.
1,300,000,000 kilometers
Average distance between Saturn and Earth. That's more than 800,000,000 miles.
1
Percentage of time Cassini's engines will burn during the mission. The other 99 percent is all cruising.
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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2014