SATURN The Ringed Planet, is probably the most visually stunning planet in our planetary neighborhood. Saturn's giant rings are actually made of of thousands of small particles of dust and ice. The divisions in the rings we see from Earth are caused by some of Saturn's smaller moons.
Saturn is the most distant of the five planets known to ancient stargazers. In 1610, Italian Galileo Galilei was the first astronomer to gaze at Saturn through a telescope. To his surprise, he saw a pair of objects on either side of the planet, which he later drew as "cup handles" attached to the planet on each side. In 1659, Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens announced that this was a ring encircling the planet. In 1675, Italian-born astronomer Jean Dominique Cassini discovered a gap between what are now called the A and B rings
Saturn is the sixth planet in the solar system, located in between Jupiter and Uranus. Saturn is much further away from the Sun than we are here on Earth. Its average distance from the Sun is over 850 million miles, compared to Earth's which is 93 million miles. Saturn's orbit, the path it follows around the Sun, is nearly a circle. The closest the as planet comes to the Sun is around 840 million miles, while the furthest away it gets is around 930 million miles. Since Saturn is so far away from the Sun, it takes a very long time for it to go around the Sun once. A year on Saturn, the amount of time it takes for this trip, is twenty-nine and one-half Earth years! A day on Saturn, though is much shorter than one of our Earth days. The giant planet spins around, or rotates, once every ten and one-half hours. 

 Can I See It?
      Yes you can, and you won't need a telescope.  Saturn is easy to pick out in the sky because it is one of the brightest lights in the sky. Also, the planet has a very faint greenish color that makes it stand out from the rest of the things in the sky. 

 How Big Is It?
 Saturn is the second-largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter is the only planet that is bigger. The gas giant is 72 thousand miles in diameter, almost ten times the size of Earth. To put it another way, if you had a ball that was the size of a dime, Saturn would be a little bigger than a soccer ball. In spite of its huge size, though, Saturn weighs very little. It is a very light gas planet. Saturn is so light, in fact, that it would float
 in water, assuming you had a very large swimming pool.

 What About the Rings?
      The beautiful rings that are Saturn's most famous feature are absolutely huge. The rings are over 160 thousand miles in diameter. That is two-thirds of the distance from Earth to the Moon! The rings are very, very thin when compared to their width. They average less than fifty feet thick! This explains why the rings seem to disappear when we are looking at Saturn from the edge, as in the picture above.
      If you look closely at the pictures of Saturn on this page and on the other Saturn pages, you will notice that there are several gaps in the rings. If you could get even closer, you would see that even the parts that appear to be solid are not solid at all, but are made up of billions of snowballs, ranging in size from the snowball you throw in winter to ones that are bigger than a house! The gaps in Saturn's rings are caused by the many moons that circle the giant planet. The moons act as "shepherds" that keep the
      rings lined up in the beautiful patterns you see here. One of the bands in Saturn's rings is even braided, much like a pigtail. TheVoyager mission sent back pictures of this amazing feature. 

 How Many Moons Does It Have?
      Saturn has at least eighteen moons, more than any other planet in our solar system. The Voyage missions took pictures of what might be at least six more moons, but we will have to wait for the Cassini mission for more information. The many moons of Saturn play an important part in keeping the shape of Saturn's spectacular rings. One of Saturn's most interesting moons is Titan, in the picture at right. Titan has a very thick atmosphere, or blanket of air, surrounding it. The atmosphere on Titan contains a lot of the gas nitrogen, like what we have here on Earth. Scientists believe that Titan may liquid water on its surface, which would be an exciting discovery if it turns out to be true. The Cassini space mission will land a probe, or special landing craft, on Titan to try and answer some of these questions. 

 How Did It Get Its Name?
      Saturn was named for the Roman god of agriculture. In Roman mythology Saturn was the father of Jupiter. In our solar system, this is a case where the son outgrew the father. Saturn is also the root, or origin, of our word "Saturday". 

 What's It Made Of? 
      Saturn is a lot like Jupiter, in that it is a gas planet, made of mostly of the elements hydrogen and helium. Saturn is a lot lighter, or less dense, than Jupiter. The combination of its light weight and speedy rotation causes Saturn to spread out, or oblate, at its center. You can see this clearly in some of the pictures on this page and the other Saturn pages. Jupiter spreads out at its center, too, like the rest of the gas planets, but not nearly as much as Saturn.What's It Like on the Surface  Since Saturn is a gas planet, it does not have a solid surface like Earth does. Landing a spacecraft on Saturn would be like trying
      to land an airplane on a cloud. The clouds we see when we look at Saturn are just the top layer of a very deep layer that covers a center of liquid hydrogen. The clouds on Saturn are blown by constant winds that can blow at speeds up to one thousand miles per hour at the equator, or center, of the planet. Saturn does have different colored spots, or features, in its clouds, but nothing that is as spectacular as
      the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. 


NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today offered congratulations to the European Space Agency (ESA) on the successful touchdown of its Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan
"The descent through Titan's atmosphere and down to its surface appeared to be perfect," Administrator O'Keefe said. "We congratulate ESA for their spectacular success. We're very proud of the Cassini-Huygens teams that helped to make this both an engineering and scientific victory, and we appreciate the dedication and support from our international partners." 
The probe entered Titan's upper atmosphere at about 5:15 a.m. EST Jan. 14. During its two and one-half hour descent to the surface of the moon, it sampled the chemical composition of the atmosphere. The probe continued transmitting data for more than 90 minutes after reaching the surface. 

The data was sent to NASA's Cassini spacecraft, and was recorded and relayed through NASA's Deep Space Network to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and to ESA's Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany. The European Space Agency facility is the operations center for the Huygens probe mission. Data was received over one of two channels designed to be mostly redundant. 

JPL Director Dr. Charles Elachi said, "We congratulate our colleagues at ESA on the splendid performance of the Huygens probe and look forward to the science results of this effort. This has been a great example of international collaboration to explore our solar system." 

Cassini-Huygens is a joint mission of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. ESA's Huygens probe was carried to Saturn's orbit aboard Cassini, and sent on its way to Titan on Dec. 24, 2004. Cassini continues to orbit Saturn on a four-year prime mission to study the planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere. 

"Our ESA colleagues have every reason to be very proud of the excellent manner in which the Huygens probe performed," said Robert T. Mitchell, Cassini program manager at JPL. "We are also proud of our support for this endeavor," he said. 

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter. ESA built and managed the development of the Huygens probe and is in charge of the probe operations. ISA provided the high-gain antenna, much of the radio system and elements of several of Cassini's science instruments.

This is of the first pictures returned by the European Space Agency's 
Huygens probe during its successful descent and landing on Saturn's moon Titan.

A colored view of the moon's surface shows pebble-sized objects originally 
thought to be rocks or ice blocks. 

A mosaic of nine processed images recently acquired during 
Cassini's first very close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on Oct. 26, 2004, 
constitutes the most detailed full-disc view of the mysterious moon.


Welcome to 
Rajesh Chopra's 
Guest Book and comments Please

Press Information


This site is sponsored by
Copyright © 1998-2001 Live India Internet Services! All rights reserved

Legal Information
All rights reserved. No part of this publication and other sites of under may be transmitted or reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission from the publisher Live India Internet Services or Rajesh Chopra, L.C.Premium Cables, 1826, Amar Nath 2nd Building, Bhagirath Palace Delhi - 110006, India. or Mr.Rajesh Chopra is not responsible for any wrong information under this site, For confirmation of any information it is recommended that you can reconfirm from yours end

live India