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Saturn System

The sixth planet from the Sun. Saturn is a gas giant, second only in size to Jupiter with a diameter more than 9 times that of Earth. It has a spectacular system of rings and a large collection of moons (23 currently known). Saturn also has the most flattened shape of any of the major planets. Its average density is so low that if placed in a big enough tub of water, it would easily float.  Saturn's atmosphere consists of 96.3% hydrogen and 3.25% helium, with traces of methane, ammonia, ethane, ethylene, and phosphine. Because Saturn is colder than Jupiter, the more colorful chemicals sink lower in its atmosphere and can't be seen. At Saturn's center is believed to lie a core of rocky material about the size of the Earth, but more dense. Around this is a metallic hydrogen shell some 30,000 km deep, surmounted, in turn, by a region composed of liquid hydrogen and helium with a gaseous atmosphere some 1,000 km deep.

(For further details see Saturn »)

(Source: The Internet Encyclopedia of Science »)

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"Ingredients for Life" Present on Saturn's Moon Enceladus Last Updated on 2010-02-09 17:25:03 LONDON (Feb. 8, 2010) – Some of ‘the major ingredients for life’ are present on one of Saturn’s moons, according to UCL scientists. A team from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory working on the Cassini-Huygens mission have found negatively charged water ions in the ice plume of Enceladus.   Figure Caption – Cassini captured this stunning mosaic of Enceladus as the spacecraft sped away from the geologically active moon of Saturn. Their analysis of data gathered during the spacecraft’s plume fly-throughs in 2008 provide evidence for the presence of liquid water. The spacecraft’s plasma spectrometer, used to gather this data, also found other species of negatively charged ions including hydrocarbons. MSSL’s Professor Andrew Coates, lead author of a paper on the latest discovery, said: “While... More »
Glint of Sunlight Confirms Liquid in Northern Lake District of Titan Last Updated on 2009-12-18 00:00:00 PASADENA, CA (Dec. 17, 2009) – NASA's Cassini Spacecraft has captured the first flash of sunlight reflected off a lake on Saturn's moon Titan, confirming the presence of liquid on the part of the moon dotted with many large, lake-shaped basins. Cassini scientists had been looking for the glint, also known as a specular reflection, since the spacecraft began orbiting Saturn in 2004. But Titan's northern hemisphere, which has more lakes than the southern hemisphere, has been veiled in winter darkness. The sun only began to directly illuminate the northern lakes recently as it approached the equinox of August 2009, the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. Titan's hazy atmosphere also blocked out reflections of sunlight in most wavelengths. This serendipitous image was captured on July 8, 2009, using Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. The new infrared image... More »
NASA Space Telescope Discovers Largest Ring Around Saturn Last Updated on 2009-10-07 00:00:00 NASA-JPL (Oct. 5, 2009) – NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered an enormous ring around Saturn -- by far the largest of the giant planet's many rings. FIGURE CAPTION –  This artist's conception shows a nearly invisible ring around Saturn - the largest of the giant planet's many rings. It was discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/KecK The new belt lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system, with an orbit tilted 27 degrees from the main ring plane. The bulk of its material starts about six million kilometers (3.7 million miles) away from the planet and extends outward roughly another 12 million kilometers (7.4 million miles). One of Saturn's farthest moons, Phoebe, circles within the newfound ring, and is likely the source of its material. Saturn's newest halo is thick, too -- its vertical height is about 20 times the diameter... More »
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