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Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun, orbiting it at a distance of 1,425 million kilometers. It is a yellow-colored Gas Giant, like Jupiter. It is orbited by several rings.
Physical Properties[edit | edit source]
Saturn has a diameter of 116,464 kilometers, which is around 9 times that of Earth. Inside Saturn is probably a core of iron, nickel, silicon and oxygen compounds, surrounded by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen, then a layer of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium and finally, an outer gaseous layer.
Moons[edit | edit source]
Saturn has 62 known moons orbiting the planet; 53 are officially named. The largest moon is Titan, which is larger in volume than the planet Mercury. Titan has an atmosphere made of Methane, and has lakes on its surface that are made out of liquid Methane as well. Other moons, like Hyperion and Phoebe, have lots of craters, and one of them, Mimas, has a giant crater called Herschel. One of the moons, called Rhea, has a system of 3 faint rings.
Ring System[edit | edit source]
Scientists believe that the rings are material left after a moon broke apart. A new hypothesized theory says that it was a very large moon, which crashed into the planet or another moon. This left a large amount of ice to form the rings, and also some of the moons, like Enceladus, which are thought to be made of ice.
Exploration[edit | edit source]
On July 1, 2004, the Cassini−Huygens probe entered into orbit around Saturn. Before then, it flew close to Phoebe, taking very high resolution photos of its surface and collecting data. On December 25, 2004, the Huygens probe separated from the Cassini probe before moving down towards Titan's surface and landed there. It landed on a dry surface, but it found that large bodies of liquid exist on the moon. The Cassini probe continued to collect data from Titan and a number of the icy moons. It found evidence that the moon Enceladus had water erupting from its geysers. Cassini also proved, in July 2006, that Titan had hydrocarbon lakes, located near its north pole. In March 2007, it discovered a large hydrocarbon lake the size of the Caspian Sea near its north pole. The probe finally dived into Saturn's surface in September 2017.
References[edit | edit source]