Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture. Famous for its beautiful bright rings made of billions of individual water ice, dust and some rocky partials all orbiting the planet. Most partials are small, dust and sand size, however, a few chunks are very large pieces, dozens of meters across. Most likely broken pieces of comets and ejected material from some of Saturn’s moons. While the rings are wide, 250,000 km wide, in several bands or sections, they are very thin, only tens of meters thick.
Saturn’s atmosphere of hydrogen and helium has rotating cloud bands and several storm spots are also seen on Saturn. Saturn’s density is less than water so it would float on water.
The upper-level clouds temperature is – 178° C
- Sep 1979: Pioneer 11 was the first spacecraft to reach Saturn.
- 1979 and 1981: Voyager 1 sends back data on both of its flybys, on the intricate ring system, consisting of thousands of bands.
- Jul 2004: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft orbits Saturn, beginning a decade-long mission to study Saturn’s ring system and moons.
- Jan 2005: Huygens probe, The European Space Agency, is the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the surface of another planet’s moon – Saturn’s giant moon Titan.