Written by Manya Pandey.
When looking for fun facts about Saturn, have you wondered this – “how big is Saturn?”, or what are the interesting facts about Saturn?
This article will tell you all you need to know about Saturn!
Saturn is the the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest planet after Jupiter. It’s atmosphere is thick and it is one of the gas giants of out solar system. (Read till the end for some amazing facts about Saturn!)
According to NASA, you can put over 700 Earth-sized balls into Saturn.
Saturn is 9 to 10 times wider than Earth with a radius of 58,232 kilometres, and it is named after the Roman god of agriculture or “sowing”, called Saturnus. The Romans believed that he was also the father of Jupiter.
Let’s read on for more fun facts about Saturn!
A quick look at Saturn
Saturn was formed 4.5 billion years ago along with its eight sister planets. About half a billion years later it settled into its position as the sixth planet from the sun. It’s the 3rd outer planet.
The majestic rings of Saturn circle around the planets at top speeds. They’ll hit you like a bullet if you dare stand between them. Initially, they were thought of as seven different bands but upon closer inspection, space researchers have found that each ring is made of smaller ones, often called ringlets..
Why is Saturn an amazing planet?
Here’s why Saturn is an amazing planet. It is the only planet that can be seen from the Earth with no special instruments but you might need a telescope to view its iconic “orb with rings”.
In fact, 400 years ago an astronomer named Galileo saw Saturn’s rings with his very primitive telescope. This happened in 1610 because his telescope was not strong enough and Galileo described the planet as a triple-bodied entity and thought that rings were actually some kind of arms of the planet.
Top 20 Fun Facts About Saturn In 2023
1. Saturn doesn’t have any land to stand on!
The planet doesn’t have any surface on which you can stand – because it’s mostly made up of boiling gases. Even though a spacecraft would not have a place to land, the fly-by missions are also very challenging due to extremely hot gases inside the planet, it would melt and get crushed under high pressure.
2. The Cassini Spacecraft took the first-ever probe to Saturn
Cassini was the name of a joint planetary exploration of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Italian space agency (ASI). It was a very sophisticated robotic spacecraft that was sent on a mission to study Saturn and its system of rings and moons in detail. It was launched on 15th October 1997.
The landing, on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan was the most distant landing ever in our solar system. It sent back spectacular images and other important data.
The mission ended on Sept. 15, 2017 after 20 years. The spacecraft plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere and was burnt!
Did you know: Hubble Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program is building an archive (record) of data on the outer solar system planets including Saturn.
3. One year on Saturn equals more than 29 years on Earth.
Saturn goes around the sun at a very low speed, which is why it takes longer to complete a year on the planet than on the Earth. Also, Saturn is located very far away from the sun, which makes the journey longer.
4. It’s very windy on Saturn
Winds on Saturn can travel up to 1,000 kilometers per hour. Compare that to the winds on Earth, which, at most, can get to about 400 kilometers per hour. That’s more than a 1400 km per hour difference in speed!
5. Saturn’s air could be filled with diamonds!
Scientists have long suspected that diamonds rain down on Saturn. Here’s their reasoning – a lot of carbon is present in Saturn’s atmosphere and the planet is occasionally struck by lightning storms. These thunderbolts have enough energy and pressure to convert carbon soot into hard chunks of diamonds because a diamond is nothing but highly compressed carbon formed under extreme pressure and temperature. Interesting, right?
6. One day on Saturn is just 10 hours and 14 minutes
Do you know how days come about? Every planet rotates on its axis, each rotation is one day.
Some planets take years to complete one day and Earth only takes 24 hours. But Saturn spins quite fast, it only takes about 10 hours and 14 minutes. Isn’t that among the most exciting fun facts about Saturn you’ve ever heard? Imagine how you’d do school and all the homework in just 10 hours!
7. Saturn is so light it could float on water
As you’re aware, Saturn is made of gasses. In fact, it is one of the four gas giants in our solar system and one of the least dense planets, its density is lesser than that of water.
Saturn has a density of 0.687 grams per cubic centimetre, whereas the density of water is 1 gram per cubic centimeter. That’s why you can make it float on water if you could find a giant pool. Just for comparison, the density of Earth is 5.52 grams per cubic centimetre.
8. Only four spacecraft have visited Saturn till now
Saturn, also known as the jewel of our solar system, has not been visited many times. Only four times to be precise. The first visit was in 1979, but most of these visits were just close fly-bys. In 1981 the Cassini spacecraft actually entered orbit and also dropped a space probe near the plant
9. Sunlight takes 80 minutes to travel from the Sun to Saturn
Saturn is 9.5 astronomical units away from the Sun. It’s so far away that sunlight takes eighty minutes to travel, there whereas it only takes about 8 minutes to reach Earth.
10. Saturn has 146 moons in orbit, and many others are awaiting confirmation
Do you know how many moons does Saturn have?
It has so many moons going around the planet, you can say Saturn has its own mini solar system! Last counted in June 2023 9according to NASA), Saturn has 146 moons in orbit and some more provisional moons are waiting for confirmation and official naming by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
The planet’s moon-sized range from larger than the planet Mercury (which is the giant moon Titan), to ones as small as a sports arena!
11. Saturn can’t sustain life
The ringed planet’s atmosphere is too extreme to have any living organisms. Moreover, it doesn’t even have a surface to stand on but that’s not a problem because one of its moons has water underneath its icy surface and, where there is water, there’s life!
Fun Facts about Saturn’s moons
12. Enceladus – one of Saturn’s moons that has most chemicals to sustain life
Enceladus is a small moon that’s covered in ice but once in a while, it sprays out hot geysers of water. NASA has been following this interesting activity on Enceladus for a long time. Then in 2017, Cassini spacecraft took sample pictures of water jets being propelled out of the moon. Space scientists believe it may be able to support life in the near future!
13. Titan is its largest moon – is bigger than the planet Mercury
Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest one in the entire solar system.
Titan has intrigued scientists for quite a while now mostly because it’s the only moon in the entire solar system to have its own atmosphere. Much like earth, Titan’s atmosphere is a nitrogen-rich blanket, which is why researchers are hoping to find life there.
14. Titan’s air is so dense you can walk there without a spacesuit
Here’s the thing. While you can, possibly, walk around Titan without a spacesuit because the air is very dense – you’ll still need an oxygen mask and something to protect you from the bitter cold. The temperatures are around -179 degrees Celsius! When we say bitterly cold, this is what we mean!
15. Titan has clouds, rain, rivers, lakes, and seas!
Just like Earth, Titan has lakes, seas, and clouds on its surface.
Some of the seas are hundreds of feet deep and wide. They are made of hydrocarbons like methane and ethane (ethane is a kind of chemical). But researchers believe that underneath the frozen surfaces of the Titan, there are seas of water.
Fun facts about Saturn’s rings
You may wonder – what are Saturn’s rings made of? Here’s a look:
16. Saturn’s rings are made up of ice and rock particles
Saturn has seven main rings that have spaces in between them.
From a distance, it looks like Saturn has seven major rings. Scientists have named the rings alphabetically, in the order that they were discovered.
What are these rings made of?
Scientists believe that the rings could be made of broken moon pieces or comets and asteroids. Sometimes, meteoroids and asteroids collide with their moons and break them. So, the rings are actually made of billions of small pieces of ice and rock that are coated with things like dust.
In terms of the size, the pieces range from being very small, dust-sized icy particles to big pieces, some as big as a house! The other theory is that the rings could be made of the material that was left over when the planet was formed.
17. Saturn is sucking in its own rings!
Sadly Saturn is losing its charming rings. In fact, the gravity on the planet is pulling in its own rings, and NASA is calling it the ring rain. Research has confirmed that the larger particles near the planet’s gravitational arena are being pulled into the planet and are falling down as a dusty rain of ice. Its popularly referred to as “ring rain”
18. Here’s some more information about Saturn’s “Ring rain”
Fun facts about Saturn don’t seem t end! Here’s another.
NASA estimates that this ‘ring rain’ is draining enormous amounts of “water products that could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in half an hour,” said James O’Donoghue of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. And they suspect that at this rate all of the rings will be gone in less than 100 million years.
This phenomenon also made scientists think that the other ringed planets like Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus could once have had similar rings but lost them before we could even see them.
19. The rings were not born with Saturn
As we said, no one really knows how the rings were born, but one thing is for sure – the rings were not born with the planet, they came later.
There are a lot of theories relating to the ring’s origin, the most prevailing one being that they could have formed when some minute icy moons collided with Saturn, or when some of these moons crashed with incoming meteorites
20. Now – some fun facts about Saturn’s springs
If you thought only Earth had a spring season, think again.
Spring arrives at every equinox on Saturn. The equinox is a phenomenon when the sun stands a little taller on the planet’s equator. During an equinox, multiple shadows of the planet’s iconic rings converge into one big shadow, this shadow falls on the planets in a mosaic pattern.
What is Saturn made of?
Saturn is mostly made of gases like hydrogen and helium.
Helium is the same gas that’s filled in balloons to make them fly, but Saturn is not all air. At the center of the planet lies a dense core of metals like iron and nickel. This core is surrounded by rocky material and solidified compounds.
Scientists believe these materials were hardened because of intense pressure and heat that keeps on increasing with the depth.
The core of Saturn is much smaller than other planets like Jupiter. All these gases are hot enough to melt a spacecraft weighing more than 2 tons.
Before we wrap us – let’s see some more reasons why is Saturn an amazing planet.
- The day Saturday s actually named after Saturn. We owe Saturn for our weekends.
- Spacecrafts have recorded eerie sounds coming out of Saturn – voices that sound, somewhat, like grieving witches.
- The planet also displays some very stunning Auroras that are formed due to intense radio wave emissions from the planet. Auroras are also found on Earth, especially at the poles like the northern lights on Earth.
- On February 3, 2023, scientists said they have discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter, putting the total count ,for the planet , at 92 and that is the highest number of moons for any other planet in our solar system including Saturn. Saturn is a close second at 83.
Hope you found this interesting Let us know what you think in the comments and share these fun facts about Saturn with your friends!
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