You Are At: AllSands Home > Science > The planet Saturn
Saturn, with its stunning rings, is by far the most beautiful planet in our solar system. A gaseous atmosphere surrounds the planet which was discovered to be colder than Jupiter. It has a diameter of 74,000 miles which is nine times the size of earth. Saturn will orbit the sun from a distance of 887 miles every 29 1\2 years.

Rocky fragments, ranging in size from tiny pebbles to house size chunks, coated with ice that orbit the planet like small moons make up Saturn's rings. These rings reach out for 170,500 miles from side to side and are less the ten miles thick. It is believed that the rocky fragments may have been the remains of moons that have broken up. Space probes have found fainter rings outside the visible rings that could not be detected by telescope. During a space probe done by the Voyager is was learned that Saturn's rings are made up of thousands of ringlets, like the grooves in a disc.

Saturn was discovered to have seventeen moons with the largest, Titan, being larger than the planet Mercury. Titan is covered with a thick atmosphere that is denser than Earth's which is mostly nitrogen gas and some methane gas. The atmospheric pressure is known to be higher than that of Earth's. It has a red appearance even from a distance resulting from photochemical smog. The surface is very cold and scientists believe there could be methane gas in solid, liquid and gas forms on Titan, just as on Earth. But it is speculated that the methane on Titan could exist in lakes or oceans, as well as ice and snow on the surface.

Of the other major moons around Saturn, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Hyperion and Iapetus were explored. Mimas is an irregular shaped moon and only 240 miles in diameter. A hugh impact crater was discovered on Mimas much like the ones found on our moon. This crater is so large that scientists believe the impact must have nearly broken Mimas apart. Enceladus is almost twice the size of Mimas. It has both smooth and cratered areas. Tethys, like Mimas, has a giant crater that appears flat. It is believed the edges of this crater sagged when the ice surfaces melted and flowed. Tethys has long canyons as well as a second crater that appears to be several miles deep and spans halfway around its surface. Dione has a frigid surface the density of water that has led scientists to believe it must be made of ice. Rhea's surface is lighter in color with both smooth and cratered areas. Scientists believe the lighter material could be ice. Hyperion is a flattened burger shaped moon with an unstable rotation. Iapetus has created a mystery for scientists. One side of this moon is five times darker than the other side. Although no one understands why this has occurred, it is believed that the dark material is the same found on Halley's Comet and some asteroids.