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spacer features > > Saturn > > fun facts

Fun Facts About Saturn

General

  • One of five "naked eye" planets known to the ancients. Saturn is named for the Roman god of agriculture, also linked to Kronos, Greek god of time, father of Jupiter and king of the gods. (The others are Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter)
  • Yellowish color; at times the 3rd brightest planet in night sky

Physical Characteristics

  • Second largest planet in the solar system, after Jupiter.
  • Equatorial diameter 120,536 kilometers (74,898 miles) at cloud tops
  • Polar diameter 108,728 kilometers (67,560 miles), making it the most oblate (flattened) planet.
  • Density 0.69 (water = 1), the least dense planet and the only one lighter than water
  • Volume 764 times that of Earth, but only 95 times more massive
  • Chemical composition primarily hydrogen and helium, thus accounting for its low density

Orbit

  • Sixth planet from the Sun, between Jupiter and Uranus
  • Mean distance from Sun 1.43 billion kilometers (890 million miles), approximately 10 times the distance from Earth to the sun
  • Brightness of sunlight at Saturn 1 percent of that at Earth
  • Length of a Saturn year is 29.42 Earth years
  • Length of a Saturn day is 10 hours, 39.4 minutes
  • Poles tilted 29 degrees relative to the plane of its orbit around the Sun

Environment

  • Saturn's atmosphere above clouds is approximately 94 percent hydrogen and 6 percent helium
  • Winds near Saturn's equator blow toward east at 500 meters per second (1,100 miles per hour), making Saturn the windiest planet
  • Temperature at Saturn's cloud tops -139 C (-218 F)

Previous Exploration

Rings

  • Saturn's main ring system would barely fit in the space between Earth and its Moon
  • Ring names are alphabetical in order of their discovery
  • B ring often contains radial spokes of dust-sized material; their appearance changes with time as they appear, change and disappear frequently
  • "Cassini Division" between the B ring and A ring is sparsely populated with ring material
  • E ring is densest at the orbit of Enceladus and may be fed by Enceladus eruptions

Moons

  • Saturn has 33 known moons, 15 of which were discovered after Cassini launched
  • Titan is the largest of Saturn's moons, and is larger than the planets Mercury and Pluto



Source: NASA



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