Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun. It lies in the outer half of the solar system. The second largest planet, it is named after the god of agriculture. Saturn is one of the gas giants along with Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus. Saturn has 62 known satellites and is known for its prominent rings.

Saturn (photo: NASA).

Photo: Saturn, the gas giant with its distinctive ring (Creative Commons: NASA).

Facts About Saturn

Distance from the sun: 1,513 million kilometers (aphelion), 1,353 million kilometers (perihelion).

Size:  radius of 58.2 thousand kilometers.

Mass:  95 times that of earth.

Gravity:  106% of earth.

Satellites: 62 satellites.

Rotation:  10.5 hours (length of a day).

Revolution:  10,759 days (time to orbit the sun).

Surface Temperatures: 134 °K.

Features of Saturn

Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant. The atmosphere of Saturn is mostly hydrogen (96%) and helium (3%) with other trace gases. However, towards the planet’s core, pressures and temperatures become very high. Under these conditions, gases begin to behave like a metal. As a result, a layer of metallic hydrogen surrounds the core. The core of the planet is thought to be iron and nickel.

About once every Saturn year, a Great White Spot develops. The spot is a storm system similar to Jupiter’s Red Spot. In the atmosphere, wind speeds can reach 1,800 kilometers per hour.

Saturn has the most prominent rings of the four gas giants. The rings may have been formed by the destruction of a moon. Or, they may have formed from the original nebular material which created Saturn.

The planet has 62 satellites with about another 100 smaller moonlets. Titan is the largest moon. This is followed by Rhea, the second largest moon. The moon Enceladus may have an ocean that could support microbial organisms.

Vocabulary Building

The following is a recommended list of words and their definitions for students.

atmosphere: the layer of gas on the surface of a planet or satellite.

core: the central part of a planet.

gas giant:  a large planet that is mostly made up of hydrogen and helium, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune.

Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills

Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. Try to answer the following questions to improve your reading comprehension.

•  Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun.

•  What feature is the planet the most famous for?

•  Where could life exist near Saturn?



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7 comments on "Saturn: Rings and Things"

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Webster Gabiana

Saturn at ika anim sa araw.

Webster Gabiana

Saturn has 96% of hydrogen .It is one of the famous of the rings. Saturn has 69 known satellite .

Ronand Abella

Ito ayangparangbahaynatin kapag ang planeta natin ay mamatay atano pa.
Nag gagawa ito ng gagawa ng mga pagdadarating.
Siya ay nag merong 62 satellites.

Ronand Abella

Sturn was named after the god of Saturn in the latin word.
Saturn has 62 known satellites.
Once Saturn year a white spot develop that white spot is a giant storm.
The giant storm is similar to the storm mars.

Webster Gabiana

saturn has 62