EXPLORE THE WORLDS ABOVE

EXPLORE THE WORLDS ABOVE

LET’S EXPLORE SATURN

  • Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System.
  • Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gigantic world made mostly of hydrogen and helium gas.
  • Saturn’s density is very low, even lower than water.
  • Saturn takes almost 30 years to orbit the Sun once.
  • Saturn’s rings are made up of millions of orbiting rocks, ice and dust.
  • The rings would reach from the Earth to our Moon. Yet, they are typically only about 30 feet in vertical height.
  • Saturn has at least 82 moons, the most moons in our Solar System.
  • The largest of Saturn’s moons is Titan. Titan is the only moon in the Solar System with clouds and a dense, planet-like atmosphere.

Cassini
Launch Date: October 15, 1997
Completed the first in-depth, up-close study of Saturn and its realm from orbit. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/cassini/overview/

Voyager 1
Launch Date: September 5, 1977
Voyager 1 successfully flew by both the Jupiter and Saturn systems before continuing out into the farthest most reaches of our solar system. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/voyager-1/in-depth/

Voyager 2
Launch Date: August 20, 1977
Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to study all four of the solar system’s giant planets at close range. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/voyager-2/in-depth/

Pioneer 11
Launch Date: April 6, 1973
Pioneer 11, the sister spacecraft to Pioneer 10, was the first human-made object to fly past Saturn and also returned the first pictures of the polar regions of Jupiter. Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/pioneer-11/in-depth/

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
Published: March 7, 2018
This composite infrared image, derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter during a Feb. 2, 2017, pass over the planet, shows the central cyclone at the planet’s north pole and the eight cyclones that encircle it. JIRAM collects data in infrared, and the colors in this composite represent radiant heat: the yellow (thinner) clouds are about 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-13°Celsius) in brightness temperature and the dark red (thickest) are around -181 degrees Fahrenheit (83°Celsius).

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Space Science Institute
Published: November 11, 2014
Research suggests effects of sunlight produce the color of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. The feature’s clouds are much higher than those elsewhere on the planet, and its vortex nature confines the reddish particles once they form.

Source: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL Team
Published: September 12, 2019
Historical Date: June 20, 2019
The latest view of Saturn from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures exquisite details of the ring system — which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings — and atmospheric details that once could only be captured by spacecraft visiting the distant world. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed Saturn on June 20, 2019, as the planet made its closest approach to Earth, at about 845 million miles away. This image is the second in a yearly series of snapshots taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system’s gas giant planets. In Saturn’s case, astronomers will be able to track shifting weather patterns and other changes to identify trends.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Published: May 8, 2017
Saturn’s hexagonal polar jet stream is the shining feature of almost every view of the north polar region of Saturn. The region, in shadow for the first part of the Cassini mission, now enjoys full sunlight, which enables Cassini scientists to directly image it in reflected light.

Source: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Published: February 3, 2016
With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun’s blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world.
This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The full mosaic consists of three rows of nine wide-angle camera footprints; only a portion of the full mosaic is shown here. Color in the view was created by digitally compositing ultraviolet, infrared and clear filter images and was then adjusted to resemble natural color.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
The vortex at Saturn’s north pole — seen here in the infrared — takes on the menacing look of something from the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe. But really, of course, it’s just another example of the amazing, mesmerizing meteorology on Saturn.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Published: December 18, 2012
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has delivered a glorious view of Saturn, taken while the spacecraft was in Saturn’s shadow. The cameras were turned toward Saturn and the sun so that the planet and rings are backlit. (The sun is behind the planet, which is shielding the cameras from direct sunlight.) In addition to the visual splendor, this special, very-high-phase viewing geometry lets scientists study ring and atmosphere phenomena not easily seen at a lower phase.
Since images like this can only be taken while the sun is behind the planet, this beautiful view is all the more precious for its rarity. Earth does not appear in this mosaic as it is hidden behind the planet.

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