The Solar System

Gas Giants

What are the physical properties of Saturn?

Saturn is similar to Jupiter, though about one-third the mass. Still, it is about ninety-five times more massive than Earth. Saturn’s average density is actually lower than that of water. A day on Saturn is only ten hours and thirty-nine minutes long; it spins so fast that its diameter at the equator is 10 percent larger than its diameter from pole to pole.

Saturn has a solid core likely made of rock and ice, which is thought to be many times the mass of Earth. Covering this core is a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen, and on top of that are layers of liquid hydrogen and helium. These layers conduct strong electric currents that, in turn, generate Saturn’s powerful magnetic field.

Saturn has dozens of moons, and its largest moon is Titan, which is larger than Earth’s own moon and has a thick, opaque atmosphere. Perhaps the most spectacular part of Saturn is its magnificent system of planetary rings, the part which can be seen in visible light stretches some 170,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) across.


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