Monday, 10 October 2011

Saturn - the ringed planet

Saturn is distinguished by its extensive ring system, but otherwise has several similarities to Jupiter. They are both gas giants. Saturn has at least sixty known satellites; two of which, Titan and Enceladus, show signs of geological activity, though they are largely made of ice.

Saturn was first visited by NASA's Pioneer 11 in 1979 and later by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Cassini (a joint NASA / ESA project) arrived on July 1, 2004 and is still in orbit now.

Saturn's rings are extraordinarily thin: though they're 250,000 km or more in diameter they're less than one kilometre thick. The ring particles seem to be composed primarily of water and ice, but they may also include rocky particles with icy coatings.

Saturn is 1,430,000,000 km away from the sun.