The sixth planet from the Sun in our solar system, Saturn is a planet that has both fascinated and left scientists speechless, with more questions raised than the answers so far known about it. It is a planet that is surrounded in mystery.
The planet is composed of hydrogen and helium and its density is 0.687grams/cubic centimeter. With such a density, Saturn is less dense than water on Earth which is 1 gram/cubic centimeter. This means that Saturn can float in a large pool of water.
It has a volume that is 755 times greater than that of Earth meaning our planet, Earth can fit into it that number of times. The average distance of Saturn from Sun is 1,426,725,400 kilometers.
According to Bobthealien, Saturn’s rings orbit the planet at different tilts. “Sometimes, they can appear like ‘ears’ sticking out of the planet. At other times, they are flat on when seen from Earth and are hardly visible. This shows how thin they can be.”
It further states, “It iis believed that Saturn’s rings will one day dissapear. They will either disperse (spread out) into space or get sucked into the planet by its pull of gravity. This will happen in about 50 million years.”
Saturn’s rings are mostly made of water ice and the material in rings are of different sizes from a few meters to tens of meters.
“Saturn’s rings are unmatched by any other planet,” states Library.thinkquest. “The rings of Saturn lie in the same plane as the equator and are quite thin. Thin enough that stars can be seen through them.” Library.thinkquest further shows that Saturn’s rings are not solid like they look. “They are made up of countless small, separate particles of rock and ice that circle the planet.”
According to National Geographic, Saturn’s ring system is the most expansive and complex in the solar system, extending hundreds of thousands of kilometers from the planet.
The rings of Saturn are large to the extent they cannot fit in the space between the Earth andk the moon, having a diameter of 275,000 kilometers.
Universetoday states concerning the rings of Saturn, “It’s possible that Saturn’s rings have been around since the beginning of the solar system – almost 4.6 billion years ago.” It further says, “They have been created when a 300km ice moon was torn apart by Saturn’s gravity, and formed a ring around the planet. It’s also possible that they’ve left over material when Saturn formed in the solar nebula.” However “… astronomers have also found that the ring material looks just too clean to have formed so long ago, and could be as young as 100 million years old. It’s a just a big mystery.”
According to NASA, the rings are believed to be pieces of comet, asteroids or shattered moons that broke up before they reached the planet. Each ring orbits at a different speed round the planet. It also confirms to the complex nature of planet Saturn and its rings. They state that the rings of Saturn have puzzled astronomers since Galileo Galilei discovered them with his telescope in 1610.