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Rotation period as fast as Jupiter, as well as differential rotation rates at poles and equator. Saturn. Second largest planet – with rings Atmosphere composition similar to Jupiter, but less metallic H2 Density ~ 0.69 g/cc (could float on water!) Twice as far from the Sun as Jupiter

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saturn

Saturn

Second largest planet – with rings

Atmosphere composition similar to Jupiter, but less metallic H2

Density ~ 0.69 g/cc (could float on water!)

Twice as far from the Sun as Jupiter

Surface Temp = 95 K

Deep clouds, strong winds (1700 Km/hr)

Intrinsic magnetic field is 1000 x Earth’s (but because of its size it is only 70% of Earth’s just outside the atmosphere)

rings of saturn highly structured and stable formations
Rings of Saturn:Highly structured and stable formations

Polar caps are illuminated due to electrical activity at the two magnetic poles

distances of rings how many
Distances of Rings(How many?)

2.5 times

radius

of planet

The Ring systems lie within about 2.5 x Saturn’s radius. i.e. within Roche limit

rings and gaps thousands of rings interspersed with gaps
Rings and Gaps: Thousands of rings interspersed with gaps

Voyager view: Before that there were thought to be only a few

rings and moons
Rings and Moons
  • What are the rings made up of ?
  • What keeps the rings stable and in orbit ?
  • Saturn has 18 moons, more than any other planet (Titan is most interesting !)
  • All Jovian planets are now known to have rings
  • Saturn’s rings are most shiny: made of icy rocks, in independent Keplerian orbits, above the equator
composition of rings
Composition of Rings
  • Dirty, icy, snowballs from about 1/1000 of an inch (dust particles) to 10 yards; most about a foot
  • Origin: (i) breakup of satellite(s), (ii) incomplete formation (a la asteroid belt !)
  • Orbits are stable and particles do not collide
  • Rings are stable due to gravitational interaction with small Shepherding Moons that lie among the ring structures
the roche limit
The Roche Limit
  • Gravitational stability limit, out to about 2.5 times the radius of the planet
  • Any object without intrinsic gravity (such as a pile of gravel) will break up inside the Roche limit due to tidal effects; a moon with sufficient mass and under its own gravity need not break up
  • All rings, and small shepherding moons, lie within the Roche limit; larger moons are outside
shepherding moons and a ring
Shepherding moons and a ring

Ring particles in ‘orbital resonance’ with the moons are ejected due to periodic

gravitational interaction, i.e. only particles whose periods are NOT multiples

of moon’s orbital periods survive in the rings

saturn s moon titan
Saturn’s moon TITAN
  • Titan is one of several large moons beyond the Roche limit
  • Titan is most interesting, about 1.5 times the size of Earth’s moon and a density of 1.9 g/cc
  • Second largest moon in the solar system
infrared heat map of titan
Infrared (heat) map of Titan

Infrared reflectivity indicates composition of atmosphere

atmosphere of titan
Atmosphere of Titan
  • Mostly nitrogen (80%), argon, methane (CH4)
  • Pressure: 1.6 x Earth’s atmosphere
  • Surface Temperature: -300 F (95 K)
  • CH4 and C2H6 (ethane) oceans,

(half-mile deep) clouds, rain, ice, snow

  • Orangish color due to smog
  • Oxygen locked in ice
titan and origin of life
Titan and Origin of Life ?
  • Many organic, hydrocarbon compounds HCN, C3H8, etc.
  • Present conditions similar to primordial conditions on Earth in the first billion years
  • Slow evolution because of cold
  • NASA probe Cassini is now studying Titan
  • Terraforming Titan!! Heat up to release Oxygen, which would covert methane to CO2 (like Mars): CH4 + O2  CO2 + 2H; plant life to follow
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