Named after the Roman god of agriculture, Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System after Jupiter.
One might wonder as to wonder as to how a planet can have rings around it. Saturn is certainly a ‘royal’ planet, adorned with thousands of beautiful ringlets around it as its jewellery and hence is also nicknamed as “the jewel of the solar system.”
Here are 10 exciting facts about Saturn you might not know:
- Since Saturn is made mostly of gases with helium in abundance, one cannot stand on it like we do on Earth.
- The rings of Saturn are gigantic but thin. It is interesting to know that the main rings of the planet could almost expand around an area between the Earth and the Moon. But, the thickness of the rings is less than a kilometer thick.
- It is only the rings of Saturn that can be seen from Earth with the help of a telescope.
- Saturn has 53 named moons plus 16 additional moons awaiting official confirmation.
- The first spacecraft to fly by Saturn was Pioneer 11, which blasted off in 1973 and arrived at Saturn in 1979.
- While a day on Earth is of 24 hours. A day on Saturn is 10 hours 39 minutes.
- Saturn rotates at a speed of 6,200 miles per hour which makes it bulge at its equator and also its poles are flat. One can also say that it is the flattest planet in the solar system.
- Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and is the only known moon to have a substantial atmosphere, which is 370 miles deep, 10 times thicker than Earth’s atmosphere.
- Since Saturn is farther from the Sun, than Earth, it will take almost 30 earth years for the planet to orbit the Sun.
- Saturn has only been visited 4 times by spacecrafts namely Pioneer 11, in 1979, which was the first, next came Voyager 1 in 1980, then Voyager 2 in 1981 and finally Cassini in 2004. It is remarkable to know that Cassini actually went into orbit around Saturn and sent back pictures of the rings and the moons of Saturn.
Compiled by: Shruti Saxena