|Diameter||120500 km, 9.4 x Earth's|
|Mean Density||0.7 g/cm3|
|Mean Distance from Sun||1427 x 106km = 9.539 AU|
|Eccentricity of Orbit||0.056|
|Inclination of Equator to Orbit||27°|
|Inclination of Orbit to Ecliptic||2.5°|
|Atmosphere||Hydrogen, ammonia, methane|
|Length of Day||10.5 hours|
|Length of Year||29.5 years|
|No. of Moons||18|
|Gravity||1.16 x Earth's|
|Escape Velocity||35.6 km/s|
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and the second of the gas giants. It is most famous for its rings, which seem continuous but are made of lots of small icy rocks, frozen water and dust. They reflect light so well that they can be seen even through a small telescope. Saturn has three main rings, but there are about seven in total. Saturn is not the only planet to have rings Ė Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also have faint ring systems.
Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System, but has a very low density - less than that of water. If you were able to find a body of water large enough, Saturn would float in it.
Saturn has 18 moons, which is more than any other planet in the Solar System. One of the moons, Titan is the largest moon in the Solar System. Itís even bigger than Mercury. Titan is very interesting because it is thought to be one of the few places in the Solar System capable of supporting life. There is currently a spacecraft called Cassini-Huygens on its way to Saturn, which will arrive in 2004 and drop the Huygens probe into Titanís atmosphere to study it more closely. Cassini will then move on to study the planet and its rings.
Authors: Carolyn Brinkworth and Claire Thomas
Last updated: July 2001