Planet Saturn Facts
- Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest in the solar system.
- It is a giant ball of gas composed mainly of hydrogen and helium with no solid surface.
- Saturn is around 10 times bigger than Earth with a diameter of 74,900 miles (120,540 km).
- It orbits the sun at an average distance of 886 million miles (1.4 billion km).
- Saturn has seven main separate rings around it which are made from rock and ice particles.
- Its main rings extend outwards for over 200,000 km, yet their thickness ranges from around only 5 to 15 meters.
- It is believed Saturn's rings will eventually disperse or be drawn into the planet.
- Winds in Saturn's upper atmosphere can reach over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) per hour.
- Saturn has the lowest density of any planet in the solar system, so much so that it would float in water.
Orbit, Atmosphere & Temperature
Saturn's OrbitSaturn takes almost 30 years to make one complete orbit of the sun and rotates on its own axis every 10 hours 39 minutes compared to 24 hours on Earth, only Jupiter rotates faster.
Saturns' AtmosphereSaturn's atmosphere is composed of 96.3% hydrogen and 3.25% helium. The remaining half percent is made up of trace
elements of ammonia, acetylene, ethane, phosphine and methane.
Saturn's TemperatureThe temperature at the top of Saturn's clouds average
around -175C (-285F). The temperature below the clouds gets considerably hotter. Saturn's core has a temperature of around 11,700C (21,000F).
The Ringed PlanetAstonishing image of the Planet Saturn eclipsing the Sun
Close up of Saturn's ringsNatural color image of Saturn's rings
Saturn's banded atmosphere
Moons & Origin of NameSaturn has 62 moons, 25 of which have a diameter of at least 6 miles (10 km), the most interesting of these are Titan and Enceladus.
The Romans named the planet Saturnas after their god of agriculture.
Life on SaturnScientists doubt that any form of life could exist on Saturn.
Moons orbiting Saturn
Earth based telescopic view of Saturn
Cassini-HuygensLaunch: October 1997
Arrival: July 2004
Agency: NASA/ESA (Europe)
Cassini-Huygens is still in orbit around Saturn as part of its extended mission to study the planet and its moons. The craft sends back new images every day as well as studying the space environment of the Saturnian System.
Voyager 1 and 2Launch: August-September 1977
Arrival: August 1980-June 1981
Voyager 1 and 2 made successful flybys of Saturn discovering the intricate structure of the ring system as well as sending back new information about its atmosphere and magnetic field. Between them they took around 32,000 images of the planet.
Planet Saturn Statistics
Comparison with Earth