Information • The sixth planet from the sun • Second largest planet in the Solar System • Saturn is just over 95 times more massive than Earth. • Doesn’t have any solid material, just gas. • Its atmosphere is made up mostly of hydrogen and helium. • Saturn is about 886 million miles from the sun. • Five missions have been sent to Saturn. Since 2004, Cassini have been exploring Saturn, its moons and rings. • To enter Saturn’s orbit, you have to fly rings through the gap between the F and G, which is farther from the planet than the Cassini Division.
The Rings of Saturn • The rings are believed to be pieces of comets, asteroids or shattered moons that broke up before they reached the planet. • Each ring orbits at a different speed around the planet. • Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are also gas planets too and they also have rings orbiting around them, but Saturn’s are by far the largest and most spectacular. • The rings are 3,200 feet in thickness
The Rings continued • There are billions of ring particles in the entire ring system. The ring particle sizes range from tiny, dust-sized icy grains to a few particles as large as mountains. • Named alphabetically in the order they were discovered, the rings are relatively close to each other, with the exception of the Cassini Division, a gap measuring 4,700 km (2,920 miles). The main rings are, working outward from the planet, known as C, B and A. The Cassini Division is the largest gap in the rings and separates Rings B and A. The D Ring is exceedingly faint and closest to the planet. The F Ring is a narrow feature just outside the A Ring. Beyond that are two far fainter rings named G and E .
Saturn’s moons • Christiaan Huygens discovered the first known moon of Saturn. The year was 1655 and the moon was Titan. Giovanni Domenico Cassini made the next four discoveries: Iapetus (1671), Rhea (1672), Dione (1684), and Tethys (1684). Mimas and Enceladus were both discovered by William Herschel in 1789. The next two discoveries came at intervals of 50 or more years -- Hyperion (1848) and Phoebe (1898). As telescopic resolving power increased through the 19th century, Saturn's family of known moons grew. In 1966 Epimetheus and Janus were discovered. By the time Cassini-Huygens was launched in 1997, Saturn's moon count had reached 18. The number of known moons soon increased with high-resolution imaging techniques used on ground-based telescopes. The Cassini mission has discovered several more moons since its arrival at Saturn. We’ve discovered a total of 53 moons on Saturn each one with a unique story.
Is there life on Saturn? • There might not be life on Saturn, but there are enough questionable locations to explore around the ringed planet to keep astronomers busy for years. To find life, scientists will want to take a good look at Saturn’s moons. They’re made up of significant amounts of water ice, and their gravitational relation with Saturn probably keeps their cores warm. Saturn’s moon Enceladus, is known to have geysers of water erupting from its southern pole. It’s possible that it has vast reserves of superheated water beneath an ice crust
Reference • http://www.universetoday.com/15376/is-there-life-on-saturn/ • http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Saturn&Display=Sats • http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Saturn&Display=Rings