Saturn, The Planet with Rings
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun. It is 890,700,000 miles away from the Sun. In the picture below you can see that Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun. Saturn is the planet with the rings.
Why is Saturn Called the Planet with Rings?
Saturn is called the planet with rings because it has seven rings that surround it. The rings are made out of water, ice, and dust. The rings are named after letters and are titled ring "A" through ring "G." The rings are large in diameter but are very thin. A ring is normally only 650 feet thick. For many years, people had wondered where Saturn's amazing rings had come from. Recent science says that Saturn's rings may have been created when an asteroid hit one of Saturn's moons causing it to shatter. The material that was leftover from the blast then began to circle Saturn because of the planet's gravity. This is possible because, like Jupiter, Saturn has many moons (60 in total). Take a look at the video below that tells us more about Saturn's rings. Listen closely to the reason why we can see them from Earth with telescopes.
The photo below shows what the material that makes up Saturn's rings most likely looks up close.
How Big is Saturn?
Saturn is called a gas giant just like Jupiter. Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system. It's not as big as Jupiter, but 763 Earth's can still fit in Saturn! Take a look at the photo below that shows Saturn's size compared to Earth.
What Makes up Saturn?
Like Jupiter, Saturn is made mostly of gas. Saturn is made of 96% hydrogen, 3% helium, and 1% other gases. Though it is very similar to Jupiter, some astronomers believe that Saturn does have a core even though it is made of loose rock and metal. Take a look at what Saturn is made of below.
Does Saturn Have an Atmosphere?
Saturn has an atmosphere that is similar to Jupiter's because they are both made mostly of gas. Saturn has a thick atmosphere that has layers all the way into the center of the planet. Saturn has storms like the ones that exist on Jupiter. In fact, the storms that develop on Saturn are actually stronger than those on Jupiter. Saturn has been known to have winds that go over 1000mph at times! The storms on Saturn are just as strong, or even stronger than those on Jupiter. However, the storms on Saturn end after a few months. They do not last for hundreds of years like they do on Jupiter. Saturn is also a cold planet because of its distance from the Sun. The average temperature on Saturn is about - 285 degrees Fahrenheit. The video below talks about the weather on Saturn and two interesting storms that are currently taking place on the planet.
How Long Does it Take Saturn to Orbit the Sun?
It takes Saturn about 29.5 years to orbit the Sun! Why does it take so long? Remember, the further away planets get from the Sun, the longer they take to orbit the Sun.
On the same paper as your journal entry at the end of this unit try to find an answer to this math problem. Using estimation, how old would a 90 year old in Earth years be on Saturn?
Take a look at this website which is about The Cassani Solstice Mission to orbit Saturn. The mission was launched in 1997 and as of 2013 Cassani is still exploring the Saturn system. http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/kids/
Take a look at the video below which explains much of what we discussed about Saturn.
Time to Share!
What caused Saturn's rings to form? Explain by giving two details.