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Saturn

Saturn - Rotating Model
Credit: Almond/NASA


Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System after Jupiter.

Like Jupiter, it is a Gas Giant planet and has no solid surface. It's yellow colour comes from ammonia in the atmosphere.

It is most well known for its dramatic and beautiful ring system. The rings are not solid, but are made up of many millions of small lumps of ice and rock, varying from a few centimetres to several metres across. These are all orbiting around Saturn together.

Although they look very impressive, the rings are only about 1 km thick, compared to 250,000 km in diameter!

Saturn, taken by Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft
Credit: NASA


The first space-probe to go to Saturn was Pioneer 11 in 1979, but there have been several others since, most recently in 2004 with Cassini-Huygens which orbited around the planet.

Not including the rocks which make up the rings, Saturn has at least 62 moons, of which 53 have official names. The largest moon, Titan, is larger than both the planet Mercury and the dwarf planet Pluto. Titan is large enough that it has it's own atmosphere, and it is known to have liquid on the surface. It is one of the most likely places in the Solar System other than the Earth which may have life, like bacteria, on it.

Planet Data Sheet show »« hide
Facts and FiguresMercuryVenus EarthMarsJupiter SaturnUranusNeptune
Orbital Distance (AU)10.380.72 1.01.525.2 9.4519.230.06
Radius (KM)2,4406,052 6,3783,39771,492 60,26825,55924,746
Mass (Earth Masses)20.0550.82 1.00.11318 95.214.517.1
Year Length
(Earth Days)
88225 365.2568711.9
Years
29.45
Years
84.0
Years
164.8
Years
Day Length
(Earth Days)
176117 1.01.030.41 0.430.750.67
Surface Gravity (g)30.380.91 1.00.382.34 0.930.921.12
Surface Temperature-200 to
400 °C
460 °C -80 to
50 °C
-150 to
20 °C
-110 °C -140 °C-190 °C-200 °C
Number of moons00 1263 602713
Notes: 1 1 AU (or Astronomical Unit) = 149,600,000 KM and is the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun
2 1 Earth Mass = 5,980,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 KG : 3 1 g = 9.8 m/s2