Saturn, a large gas giant and the sixth planet from the Sun, is mainly associated with the many rings that encompass the planet. It is the second largest planet within the solar system, smaller than only Jupiter, and shares many of the same physical properties. Since this planet is so extremely far from the Sun, it completes one rotation every twenty-nine and a half years and makes a full rotation on its axis about every thirty days. Due to the enormous pressure placed on Saturn it is classified as an oblate spheroid, meaning it bulges around the equator and is flattened near the poles. Very little was actually known about this planet when compared to others within our solar system; however, additional research within the past decade has shared several additional features of Saturn.
The rings that encompass Saturn may well be the most viewed celestial object within our solar system due to their natural beauty and questionable origins. Many scientists speculate that the ring formations were formed due to a collision between Saturn and one of its moons, while others hypothesize that they are leftover material from the planet’s creation. The rings are mainly composed of water ice with traces of amorphous carbon, and they extend upwards of seventy five thousand miles from Saturn’s equator. The size of the debris within this planet’s rings vary from tiny dust particles to the relative size of a modern vehicle.
The planet itself is believed to be a rocky surface surrounded by gases of hydrogen and helium, much like Jupiter is. The extremely hot core of Saturn reaches temperatures of over twenty-one thousand degrees ferinheight, and the planet expells two and a half times more energy than it absorbs from the Sun. Outside the core is speculated to be liquid hydrogen, and it must undergo some type of secondary reaction in order to produce such extreme temperatures. Although this process is not completely understood by scientists it could possibly be explained by helium rising up from the center of the planet and causing friction as it passes the lighter hydrogen gasses.
Another extrodinary study of the planet Saturn is its many moons that orbit around the planet. Sixty-one are known to exist in all, although over three quarters of them are less than 50 km in diameter. Each of them are named after a Greek Titan, with the name Titan reserved for the largest natural satellite. Saturn’s second largest moon, Rhea, is believed to have its own ring system which was previously unheard of. Since the three rings are located near the equator, meteorite impacts could in fact explain their existance.
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and it is an escpecially interesting area of study due to its similarities to the Earth. It is the only known natural satellite of its kind with a dense atmosphere, comprised of over 98% nitrogen. An additional unique feature is the presence of hydrocarbon lakes covering Titan’s poles, this is not present anywhere else within our solar system except on Earth. Less than one percent of the Sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere, making it around negative two hundred ninety degrees ferinheight. The moon also produces high quantities of Methane gas, which burns up in the atmosphere but is regenerated near the polar caps. Due to Titan’s gravity human visitors would be able to fly across its surface, although that may not be a realistic goal to expect within our lifetimes.