Which is The most fascinating and beautiful planet of our solar system? It is claimed to be Saturn.
The sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest, Saturn has got the title of the most beautiful planet of the solar system.
All the beauty which Saturn has is due to its dazzling system of icy rings which gives it a uniqueness among the planets.
Saturn is not the single planet which has rings, but no other planets are as splendid or as complex as Saturn’s.
Also Read – The Largest Planet of the Solar System
Saturn is a massive ball composed mostly of the same atoms as our Sun is made, hydrogen and helium, just like its fellow gas giant and the planet of great red spot, Jupiter.
Center of gravity for more than 60 known moons, Saturn is home to few of the most fascinating landscapes in our entire solar system.
The Saturn system is a rich source of scientific exploration and still holds many mysteries, from the jets of water that rain from Enceladus to the methane lakes on smoggy Titan.
Known from the ancient times, Saturn is the most distant planet from Earth found by naked human eye without any aid of telescope or other technologies.
The planet is named after the god of agriculture and wealth, a Roman god who was also the father of Jupiter.
Size and Distance
9 times wider than Earth, Saturn has a radius of 58,232 kilometers.
If we assume Earth to be the size of a nickel, Saturn would be as big as a volleyball. 9.5 astronomical units far from the Sun, Saturn has an average distance of 1.4 billion kilometers.
One astronomical unit in short AU equals the distance from the Earth to Sun. Sunlight takes 80 minutes to reach the Saturn from the Sun.
Orbit and Rotation
After Jupiter, Saturn experiences the second-shortest day in the solar system.
Saturn has a day of only 10.7 hours (it is also the time taken by Saturn to rotate or spin around once).
Saturn completes its orbit around the Sun (a year in Saturnian time) in about 29.4 Earth years (10,756 Earth days). Like Earth, Saturn is tilted by 26.73 degrees at axis with respect to its orbit around the Sun.
This makes clear that, like Earth, Saturn must have experiencing seasons.
Saturn came in shape when around 4.5 billion years ago the rest of the solar system formed when gravity brought swirling gas and dust into this gas giant.
Saturn settled down in its present position in the solar system around 4 billion years ago, where it is the Sun’s sixth planet.
Saturn is mostly made of hydrogen and helium, the same components that has made the Jupiter and the Sun.
As mentioned earlier, like Jupiter, Saturn is mostly made of hydrogen and helium.
In the center of Saturn is a dense nucleus of metals such as iron and nickel, rocks, and other compounds that reinforce the intense pressure and heat.
It has a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen inside an envelope of liquid hydrogen—same as Jupiter’s central core but considerably smaller. It’s hard to imagine, but Saturn is the only planet in our entire solar system which has average density less than water.
This giant gas planet could float in a bathtub if somehow we manage to arrange such a colossal thing.
Saturn has no actual surface, as being a gas giant.
The planet is nothing but mostly swirling gases and liquids deeper down.
Although a spacecraft would have no surface on Saturn to land, it could also not float unscathed.
Its extreme temperatures and pressures deep inside the planet, crush, melt and vaporize every spacecraft which try to fly into the planet.
Saturn is covered with clouds that looks like faint stripes, and have jet streams and storms.
The planet has many different shades of brown, grey and yellow. In the equatorial region, winds on the top atmosphere reach around 500 meters per second.
In contrast, the strongest hurricane-force winds on Saturn top out at about 360 feet per second (110 meters per second).
And the pressure—the same kind you feel when you dive deep underwater—is so powerful it squeezes gas into a liquid. Saturn’s north pole has an amazing atmospheric feature—a hexagonal jet stream.
This six-sided pattern was first noticed in the images from the Voyager I spacecraft and since then scientists have a very close eye on this using the Cassini spacecraft.
Spanning about 30,000 kilometers across, the hexagon is a wave like jet stream about 322 kilometers per hour with a massive, rotating storm at the center.
No other planet experiences weather like it anywhere else in the solar system.
Potential for Life
Due to its extreme temperatures, pressures, and materials, Saturn’s environment is not suitable to life as we know it.
While Saturn is a non adaptable place for living things to stay on, the same is not true for some of its many moons.
Satellites like Enceladus and Titan, which has internal oceans, could possibly support life.
Saturn is home to a vast array of intriguing and unique worlds.
From the smoggy surface of Titan to crater-riddled Phoebe, all the Saturn’s moons tells another piece of the story orbiting the Saturn system.
Currently, Saturn has 53 confirmed moons with 29 additional provisional moons awaiting confirmation.
Scientists are very fascinated by the rings of Saturn. By what materials the rings of Saturn are made of.
By astronomers speculation, Saturn’s rings are made of pieces of comets, asteroids or shattered moons that has been broken up before they reached the planet, torn apart by Saturn’s powerful gravity.
They are made of billions of small pieces of ice and rock covered with another material such as dust.
The ring particles mostly range from tiny, dust-sized icy grains to chunks as big as a house. A few particles are as large as mountains.
The rings would look mostly white if you looked at them from the cloud tops of Saturn, and interestingly, each ring orbits at a different speed around the planet. Its ring system extends up to 282,000 kilometers from the planet, yet the vertical height is typically about 10 meters in the main rings.
Named alphabetically in the order they were discovered, the rings are relatively close to each other, with the exception of a gap measuring 4,700 kilometers wide called the Cassini Division that separates Rings A and B.
The main rings are A, B, and C. Rings D, E, F, and G are fainter and more recently discovered. Starting at Saturn and moving outward, there is the D ring, C ring, B ring, Cassini Division, A ring, F ring, G ring, and finally, the E ring. Much farther out, there is the very faint Phoebe ring in the orbit of Saturn’s moon Phoebe.
Saturn’s magnetic field is smaller than Jupiter’s but still 578 times as powerful as Earth’s.
The planet, its rings, and many of the satellites lie totally within its enormous magnetosphere, the region of space in which the behavior of electrically charged particles is influenced more by Saturn’s magnetic field than by the solar wind.
Aurorae occur when charged particles spiral into a planet’s atmosphere along magnetic field lines.
On Earth, these charged particles come from the solar wind. Cassini showed that at least some of Saturn’s aurorae are like Jupiter’s and are largely unaffected by the solar wind.
Instead, these aurorae are caused by a combination of particles ejected from Saturn’s moons and its magnetic field’s rapid rotation rate.
But these “non-solar-originating” aurorae are not completely understood yet. That’s it for Saturn, we will meet again with another planet and celestial objects.