SaturnSaturn is the sixth planet in order of distance from the Sun and the second one for dimensions.

Saturn is formed by a gaseous wrap that winds a nucleus of liquid hydrogen: its atmosphere has a structure similar to Jupiter's one, with an alternation of clear zones and dark bands parallel to the equator. There are areas with cyclonic perturbations: the winds blow with speeds that touch the 1.800 km/h at equator, while they decrease so much that they disappear in the polar zones.

The planet has a strong magnetic field, whose effects are extended in the space for more than 1.200.000 km, and it gives out a quantity of heat greater than that received from the Sun.

But the most remarkable structure of Saturn is, without doubt, the rings which surround the planet on the equatorial plan. Already observed by Galilei, but recognized as rings by Huygens, they are constituted by thousands of corpuscles (fragments of ice and dusts) whose diameter goes from few micrometers to the meter, each in rotation around Saturn on an own orbit; the rings, therefore, are not a rigid, compact system.

Saturn is the center of a system of seventeen satellites.

Average distance
from the Sun
1.427.000.000 km
Longest distance
from the Sun
1.507.000.000 km
Shortest distance
from the Sun
1.347.000.000 km
Period of revolution29,46 years
Period of rotation10 hours, 14'
orbital velocity
9,6 km/s
Inclination of the axis26° 44'
Inclination of the orbit
compared to the ecliptic
of the orbit
Equatorial ray60.300 km
Mass5,7 x 10^26 kg
Density0,69 kg/dm³

Saturn's satellites

distance (km)
period (days)
Author and year
of discovery
Atlas137.700~ 700,58Voyager 2, 1981
Prometheus139.400~ 1000,58Voyager 2, 1981
Pandora141.100~ 800,62Voyager 2, 1981
Janus151.500~ 1000,75Dollfus, 1966
Epimetheus151.500~ 1000,75Voyager 2, 1981
Mimas185.6001960,94Herschel, 1789
Encelado238.0002501,37Herschel, 1789
Thetys294.7005251,89Cassini, 1684
Teleste (*)294.700171,89Voyager 2, 1981
Calypso (*)294.700171,89Voyager 2, 1981
Dione377.5005602,74Cassini, 1684
Elena (**)377.500182,74Voyager 2, 1981
Rhea527.0007654,52Cassini, 1672
Titan1.221.6002.60015,90Huygens, 1655
Iperion1.483.00018021,28Bond, 1848
Japetus3.560.00072579,33Cassini, 1671
Phebe12.950.000100550,40Pickering, 1898
Notes: (*) Thetys' satellite. (**) Dione's satellite.

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