Saturn Jessica Alcalde Earth and Space Saturn SATURN Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and it is the second largest of the nine planets in the solar system. In Roman mythology it was believed to be the god of agriculture, he ate his children. Its Greek name is Cronos. Saturn is distinctively known for its ring system, which was first seen by Galileo in 1610. Of all the planets Saturn has the most moons, with a total of twenty-eight.
Until recently, there were only 18 known moons that were orbiting Saturn. In the last ten months astronomers have discovered ten more, making the total twenty-eight. The diameters of Saturns moons range from 20 to 5150 km. They are mostly made up of ice, gas and dust nebula form which the solar system was formed and from where the sun could not evaporate the frozen gases and ice. The five largest known Saturn moons are Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione and Rhea.
Diones surface is believed to be 40% rock material and it has many craters that have been caused by meteorite impacts. Many astronomers think that there is tectonic activity happening on Eceladus. Dion and Rhea look very similar on the outside because they are both very bright and wispy streaks on their surface, caused by ice from the interior that has moved to the surface. Last week, a Canadian astronomer named J.J. Kavelaars, discovered four of the ten new moons. These newly discovered moons are different from the other moons.
The new ones are much smaller and their orbits are highly inclined relative to Saturns rings and its equator. Also, they are highly elliptical. Some of Saturns moons orbit in the same direction as Saturn and others go in the opposite direction. Because of the unusual orbit of some of the moons, many astronomers believe that Saturn captured these moons after it was formed 4.6 billion years ago. The density of Saturn compared to Earth is eight times less because Saturn is made up of mostly hydrogen.
It has 88% hydrogen, 11% helium and also has methane, ammonia, ethane, acetylene and phosphine. Probes that have gone to Saturn have sent back images that show whirl winds and clouds in a deep haze. The enormous weight of Saturn’s atmosphere causes the atmospheric pressure to increase significantly toward the center of the planet, where the hydrogen gas becomes condensed into a liquid. Toward the center of the planet, the liquid hydrogen is compressed into metallic hydrogen which is an electrical conductor. Electrical currents in this metallic hydrogen are what is the cause for the planet’s magnetic field. At the center of Saturn, the core is thought to have a temperature close to 15,000 C. The average temperatures of Saturns clouds are 176 degrees Celsius.
On Saturn, the time it would take to make a full rotation is ten hours and eleven minutes. Because of Saturns fast rotation it concludes that the winds of Saturns equator go as fast as 1060 mph. The rings of Saturn are named in order of their discovery. They were named after the letters in the alphabet. From the planet outward they are called D, C, B, A, F, G, and E rings. These rings are now known to comprise more than 100,000 individual ringlets.
All of the rings of Saturn circle the planet. There are dark spots in some places on the rings and in the past have been mistaken for some of Saturns moons. One of Saturns moons Enceladus, is thought to give particles to one of the rings and they orbit together. Saturns visible rings stretch out to a distance of 84,650 miles from the center of Saturn. But in some places the rings are only 5 miles thick.
Saturn is definitely one of the more unique planets. Because of its distinctive ring system, and its twenty-eight moons. From earth Saturn appears to look like a bight yellow object, one of the brightest in the sky. The sixth planet from the sun and it is the second largest of the nine planets in the solar system. In Roman mythology it was believed to be the god of agriculture, he ate his children.
What a fantastic, great planet. Bibliography References http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/ http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?ti=0136900 0 www.looksmart.com/eus1 www.astronomy.com www.universetoday.com www.nasa1.com Science.