Saturn Statistics 2024 – Facts And Discoveries

Ketaki Joshi
Written by
Ketaki Joshi

Updated · May 30, 2024

Rohan Jambhale
Edited by
Rohan Jambhale

Editor

Saturn Statistics 2024 – Facts And Discoveries

Introduction

Saturn Statistics: Planet Saturn is famous for its rings and ranks 6th number from the Sun. It has also been named the second-largest planet in the solar system. The density on Saturn is one-eight the average of our blue planet. Saturn’s inner is a rocky core, covered by extensive metallic hydrogen, then a layer of liquid hydrogen, followed by liquid helium, and at last the gaseous outer layer.

Scientists believe that the electric current in the metallic hydrogen layer supports the planet’s magnetic field; however, it is weaker than planet Earth. Let’s check out some Saturn Statistics with interesting facts below.

Editor’s Choice

  • Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and is about 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away.
  • Its equatorial diameter is roughly 74,897 miles (120,500 kilometers), making it nine times wider than Earth.
  • The polar diameter is about 67,560 miles (108,728 kilometers), showing it’s slightly flattened at the poles due to its fast rotation.
  • It’s mostly made of hydrogen (96.3%) and helium (3.25%).
  • Saturn is less dense than water with a mean density of about 0.687 grams per cubic centimeter.
  • A year on Saturn lasts about 29.4 Earth years, or 10,759 Earth days.
  • It has a very short day, lasting about 10.7 hours.
  • Saturn is known for its strong winds and the famous hexagonal storm at its north pole.
  • The rings around Saturn are made up of ice, rock, and dust and are not solid.
  • These rings stretch up to 109,000 miles (175,000 kilometers) from the planet and are about 30 feet (10 meters) thick.
  • It has over 150 moons and moonlets within its ring system.
  • Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and Cassini-Huygens are spacecraft that have explored Saturn.
  • Saturn would float if placed in a sufficiently large body of water due to its low density.
  • The planet cannot support life as we know it and doesn’t have a solid surface to stand on.

Saturn Fact Sheet

  • According to ​​Saturn Statistics, in the solar system, after Jupiter, Saturn is the second-largest planet.
  • Saturn contains a large amount of helium and hydrogen.
  • Compared to 29 Earth years, a day on Saturn is about 10.7 hours.
  • Saturn Statistics report that Saturn experiences the most wind storms compared to any other planet in the solar system.
  • The Italian Astronomer discovered the planet Saturn named Galileo Galilei in 1610.
  • Just like you stand on Earth, you won’t be able to do so on Saturn because it does not have a solid surface.
  • Saturn Statistics further state that Saturn’s rings consist of rock, dust, and ice; therefore, the ring is not solid.
  • Saturn is 793 million miles away from Earth, but a telescope can be used to see it.
  • In addition, planet Saturn has several Moons compared to any other planet in the solar system.
  • According to Saturn Statistics, it takes Saturn around 29 Earth years to complete a trip around the Sun.
  • If the planet is put into water, it will float, being lightweight.
  • Saturn’s largest moon is Titan. Its desert atmosphere is 50 times thicker than Earth’s atmosphere.
  • NASA’s Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to fly by Saturn in 1979.
  • Planet Saturn is 9.4 times wider compared to Earth.
  • A solar year on the planet is about 10,759 Earth days.
  • Scientists say that, around 827 times, the Earth can fit into Saturn, showing how bigger it is than Earth.
  • This planet is made up of helium (3.25%), molecular hydrogen (96.3%), and other elements (0.45%).
  • Saturn is not a suitable planet for human colonization.

Facts About Saturn Discoveries

  • The oldest written records about Saturn date back to 700 BCE, explained by Assyrians.
  • Assyrians named the planet the Star of Ninib.
  • When Galileo Galilei first spotted the planet Saturn’s rings through his telescope, he mistook it for a triple planet.
  • A report published by NASA, showing the accomplishments during the Cassini Spacecraft mission to Saturn, states that radio-wave patterns are unengaged with Saturn’s inner rotation.

Saturnian Atmosphere

Density at 1 bar 0.19 kg/m3
Surface Pressure

>>1000 bars

Temperature at 0.1 bar 84 K (-189 C)
Temperature at 1 bar 134 K (-139 C)
Wind Speed up to 150 m/s (>30 degrees latitude)
Wind Speed up to 400 m/s

(<30 degrees latitude)

Scale height 59.5 km
Atmospheric Composition, Major Helium (He) – 3.25%, (2.4%), Molecular Hydrogen (H2) – 96.3% (2.4%)
Atmospheric Composition, minor (ppm) Ammonia (NH3) – 125 (75), Methane (CH4) – 4500, Ethane (C2H6) – 7 (1.5), Hydrogen Deuteride (HD) – 110
Aerosols Water ice, ammonia Ice, Ammonia hydrosulfide

Saturnian Magnetosphere (Model GSFC- Z3)

Surface (1 Rs) field strength 0.18 – 0.84 Guss
Dipole tilt to rotational axis 0.0
Dipole offset 0.038 Rs
Dipole field strength 0.215 Gauss- Rs3

Saturn Mean Orbital Elements (J2000)

Mean Longitude (deg) 49.94432
Longitude of ascending node (deg) 113.71504
Longitude of perihelio (deg) 92.43194
Semimajor axis (AU) 9.53707032
Orbital inclination (deg) 2.48446
Orbital eccentricity 0.05415060

North Pole of Rotation

Declination 83.537 – 0.004T
Right Ascension 40.589 – 0.036T

Orbital Parameters Saturn vs Earth Comparison

Coordinates of Saturnian System III

Earth Saturn
Length of the Day (Hrs) 24.0000 10.656
Sidereal rotation period (hrs) 23.9345 10.656
Obliquity to orbit (deg) 23.44 26.73
Min. orbital velocity (km/s) 29.29 9.14
Max. orbital velocity 30.29 10.14
Mean orbital velocity (km/s) 29.78 9.67
Orbit Eccentricity 0.0167 0.0520
Aphelion (106 km) 152.100 1,506.527
Perihelion (106 km) 147.095 1,357.554
Synodic period (days) 378.09
Sideral Orbit period (days) 365.256 10,759.22
Semimajor axis (106 km) 149.598 1,432.041
Tropical orbit period (days) 365.242 10,746.94

Saturn Observational Parameters

Maximum apparent visual magnitude 0.43
Mean Values at Opposition, Including Rings
–       Maximum apparent visual magnitude -0.55
–       Apparent Visual magnitude 0.05
Distance from Earth
–       Maximum (106 km) 1658.6
–       Minimum (106 km) 1205.5
Mean Values at Opposition from Earth
–       Apparent visual magnitude 0.7
–       Apparent diameter (seconds of arc) 18.8

–       Distance from Earth (106 km)

1277.13
Apparent diameter from Earth
–       Minimum (seconds of arc) 14.5
–       Maximum (seconds of arc) 19.9

Bulk Parameters Earth vs Saturn Comparison

Earth Saturn
Planetary Ring System No Yes
Number of Natural Satellites 1 146
Black-Body temperature (K) 254.0 81.0
Geometric Albedo 0.434 0.499
V-Band Magnitude V (1,0) -3.99 -8.91
Moment of Inertia (I/MR2) 0.3308 0.210
J2 (x 10-6) 1082.63 16,298
Solar Irradiance (W/m2) 1,361.0 14.82
GM (x 106 km3/s2) 0.39860 37.931
Escape Velocity  (km/s) 11.19 35.5
Gravity (mean, 1 bar)  (m/s2) 9.82 11.19
Acceleration (eq., 1 bar) (m/s2) 9.78 8.96
Acceleration (pole, 1 bar) (m/s2) 9.83 12.14
Ellipticity (Flattening) 0.00335 0.09796
Volume (1010 km3) 108.321 82,713
Polar Radius (1 bar level) (km) 6,356.8 54,364
Volumetric mean radius (km) 6,371.0 58,232
Mass (1024 kg) 5,9722 568.32

(Source: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov)

Saturnian Rings Fact Sheet

Rings of Saturn Radius/ Eq. Radius Radium (km) Albedo Optical Depth Thickness Eccentricity Surf. Density
Saturn Equator 1.000 60,268
D inner edge 1.110 66,900 10-5
D outer edge 1.236 74,510 10-5
C inner edge 1.239 74,658 0.12 – 0.30 0.05 – 0.35 5 1.4 – 5
Titan ringlet 1.292 77,871 0.00026 17
Maxwell gap/ ringlet 1.452 87,491 0.00034 17
C outer edge 1.526 91,975 0.2 0.05 – 0.35 5 2-7
B inner edge 1.526 91,975 0.4 – 0.6 0.4 – 2.5 5-10 20 – 100
B outer edge 1.950 117,507 0.4 – 2.5
Cassini division 0.2 – 0.4 0 – 0.1 20 18-20
A inner edge 2.030 122,340 0.4 – 0.6 0.4 – 1.0 10-30 30-40
Encke gap 2.214 133,410
Kneeler gap 2.265 136,487
A outer edge 2.270 136,780 0.4 – 0.6 0.4 – 1.0 20-30
F ring 2.320 139,826 0.6 0.1 0.0026
G inner edge 2.754 166,000 10-6 105
G outer edge 2.874 173,000 10-6
E inner edge 2,987 180,000 10-6 107
E outer edge 7,964 480,000 10-6 107

(Source: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov)

Saturn’s Major Satellites Compared To The Moon

Name Mass (kg) Diameter (km) Orbital period (days) Orbital Radius (km)
Tethys 6.2×1020

(0.008 M)

1,062

(0.30 D)

1.9

(0.07 T)

294,619

(0.77 a)

Rhea 2.3×1021

(0.03 M)

1,527

(0.44 D)

4.5

(0.20 T)

527,108

(1.37 a)

Titan 1.35×1023

(1.80 M)

(0.21 M)

5,149

(1.48 D)

(0.75 D)

16

(0.60 T)

1,221,870

(3.18 a)

Mimas 4×1019

(0.0005 M)

396

(0.12 D)

0.9

(0.03 T)

185,539

(0.48 a)

Lapetus 1.8×1021

(0.025 M)

1,470

(0.42 D)

79

(2.90 T)

3,560,820

(9.26 a)

Dione 1.1×1021

(0.015 M)

1,123

(0.32 D)

2.7

(0.10 T)

377,396

(0.98 a)

Enceladus 1.1×1020

(0.002 M)

504

(0.14 D)

1.4

(0.05 T)

237,948

(0.62 a)

(Source: wikipedia.org)

Details of Saturn Missions by NASA by Spacecraft

The following charts, grouped by their spacecraft and missions, explain the status of NASA’s flyby missions near Saturn along with other planets.

Pioneer 11

Objective Saturn and Jupiter Flyby
Spacecraft Mass 258.5 kilograms (570 pounds)
Mission Design and Management NASA and ARC
Spacecraft Name Pioneer G
Launch time and date 02:11 UT / April 6, 1973
Launch Site Launch Complex 36B / Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Instruments Geiger Tube Telescope (GTT), Charged Particle Instrument (CPI), Infrared Radiometer, Imaging Photopolarimeter, Helium Vector Magnetometer (HVM), Trapped Radiation detector (TRD), Sisyphus Asteroid/ Meteoroid Detector (AMD), Cosmic Ray Telescope (CRT), Ultraviolet Photometer, Charged Particle Instrument (CPI) and Quadrispherical Plasma Analyser

Cassini – Huygens  (Launch date: October 15, 1997)

In 1997, Cassini’s mission was to study the cloud properties as well as atmospheric composition around Saturn, understand winds and temperature, origin, evolution, inner structure, rotation, and ionosphere. In addition, spacecraft were used to observe Saturn’s ring’s structure and composition and their relation to rings and satellites. Moreover, Cassini was missioned to understand the dynamical processes as well as dust and micrometeoroid environments.

Icy Satellites and the magnetosphere of Saturn were also the objectives to understand their characteristics, geological histories, mechanism of surface modification, overall internal structure and composition, surface composition, and magnetosphere of Saturn. The objective of studying its magnetosphere included composition, structure and electric currents, interaction toward solar wind, rings, and satellites, along with Titan’s interaction with magnetosphere and solar wind.

Voyager 1

Objective Saturn and Jupiter Flyby
Spacecraft Mass 721.9 kilograms (1,592 pounds)
Mission Design and Management NASA and JPL
Spacecraft Name Voyager 1
Launch time and date 12:56:01 UT / September. 5, 1977
Launch Site Launch Complex 41 / Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Instruments Radio Science System (RSS), Low-Energy Charged Particles Experiment (LECP), Planetary Radio Astronomy Experiment (PRA), Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS), Imaging Science System (ISS), Photopolarimeter (PPS), Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer (MAG), Plasma Waves Experiment (PWS),  Cosmic Ray Telescope (CRS), and Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (IRIS), Low-energy charged particles experiment (LECP)

(Source: science.nasa.gov)

Voyager 2

Objective Saturn and Jupiter Flyby, Neptune and Uranus Flyby
Spacecraft Mass 721.9 kilograms (1,592 pounds)
Mission Design and Management NASA and JPL
Spacecraft Name Voyager 2
Launch time and date 14:29:44 UT / August 20, 1977
Launch Site Launch Complex 41 / Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Instruments Low-energy charged Particles Experiment (LECP), Radio Science System (RSS), Cosmic Ray Telescope (CRS), Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer (MAG), Plasma Waves Experiment (PWS), Imaging Science System (ISS), Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (IRIS), Planetary Radio Astronomy Experiment (PRA), Plasma Spectrometer (PLS), Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS), Photopolarimeter (PPS)

(Source: science.nasa.gov)

Planetary Data for Saturn

Based on Saturn Statistics, the following planetary data for Saturn was released by Britannica.

Planetary Ring System 3 main rings containing myriad component ringlets, some less-dense rings
Number of known moons 62
The inclination of the equator to Orbit 26.7°
Magnetic field strength at the equator 0.21 gauss
Polar Gravity** 1,214 cm/ sec2
Polar escape velocity** 37.4 km/sec
Rotation period (magnetic field) 10 hr 39 min 24 sec by Voyager, 10 hr 46 min by Cassini-Huygens
Equatorial Gravity** 896 cm/  sec2
Equatorial escape velocity** 35.5 km/sec
Mass 5.683 × 1026 kg
Mean density 0.69 g/cm3
Polar radius** 54,364 km
Mean synodic period* 378.10 earth days
Equatorial Radius** 60,268 km
Visual magnitude at mean opposition 0.7
Mean orbital velocity 9.6 km/sec
The inclination of the orbit to the ecliptic 2.49°
Mean distance from Sun 1,426,666,000 km (9.5 AU)
Eccentricity of orbit 0.054

(Source: britannica.com)

Atmospheric Characteristics for Saturn

The following chart explains Saturn’s atmospheric features by volume.

Scale Height 59.5 km (37.0 mi)
Surface Pressure 140 kPa
Composition by Volume
0.0007%±0.00015% Ethane (C2H6)
0.0125%±0.0075% Ammonia (NH3)
96.3%±2.4% Hydrogen (H2)
0.45%±0.2% Methane (CH4)
0.0110%±0.0058% Hydrogen Deueride (HD)
Ices Ammonium Hydrosulfide (NH4SH), Water(H2O), Ammonia (NH3)

(Source: wikipedia.org)

Saturn: A Ringed Wonder Known Since Antiquity

Saturn, the awe-inspiring ringed giant, holds a unique place in our solar system. Unlike Neptune and Uranus, which require telescopes for viewing, Saturn has been a familiar sight in the night sky for millennia. Let’s delve into its discovery and explore whether it might someday be a new home for humanity.

Visible to the Naked Eye: A Discovery for the Ages

Saturn’s discovery isn’t credited to a single person. Because it’s the sixth planet from the Sun and the farthest one visible without a telescope, people from various cultures have observed it for thousands of years. Ancient Babylonians documented their observations of Saturn as early as the 7th century BC, referring to it as “the glittering one.” Different cultures gave it various names, often associating it with their gods. The Romans named it after Saturn, their god of agriculture, which aligns with the Greek god Cronus.

Galileo’s First Glimpse: Unveiling the Rings (Kind Of)

While Saturn was familiar as a bright “star” in the night sky, its true nature remained a mystery until the invention of the telescope. In 1610, the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei turned his newly crafted telescope towards the heavens and became the first person to observe Saturn through a lens. However, his telescope wasn’t powerful enough to reveal the rings. Instead, Galileo saw what appeared to be two large bumps flanking the planet, leading him to believe Saturn had three parts.

Huygens and Cassini: Unveiling the Rings and Moons

Over the next few decades, telescopes improved, and in 1655, Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch astronomer, used a more powerful telescope to get a clearer view. He was the first to correctly identify Saturn’s rings, describing them as a thin, flat structure encircling the planet. Building on these discoveries, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, an Italian-French astronomer, made further significant contributions in the late 17th century. He identified four of Saturn’s major moons – Rhea, Tethys, Dione, and Iapetus – and discovered the Cassini Division, a prominent gap within the ring system.

A Gaseous Giant: Unfit for Habitation

So, while we’ve known about Saturn for a long time and continue to unravel its mysteries with spacecraft missions, can we ever live there? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no. Saturn, like Jupiter, is a gas giant. It has no solid surface like Earth or Mars. Its atmosphere primarily comprises hydrogen and helium, similar to our Sun, and lacks the oxygen we need to breathe. Additionally, Saturn experiences crushing pressure and extreme temperatures, making it a very hostile environment for human life.

The Enigmatic Moons: Potential Stepping Stones?

However, Saturn’s story doesn’t end there. It boasts a fascinating collection of moons, some of which hold potential for future exploration. Titan, the largest moon in our solar system and bigger than Mercury has a thick atmosphere of nitrogen and methane. Interestingly, liquid methane lakes and rivers might exist on Titan’s surface. While these wouldn’t be welcoming for a swim, they suggest the possibility of prebiotic chemistry, which might lead to the origin of life. Exploring Titan’s potential for life forms, even microbial ones, is an ongoing area of scientific interest.

Another intriguing moon is Enceladus, which spews water vapor plumes from its icy surface. These plumes might emanate from a vast subsurface ocean, raising the possibility of a watery world beneath the ice. Missions like NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have detected organic molecules within these plumes, further fueling the question of whether life could exist, or ever have existed, on Enceladus.

The Challenges of Interstellar Travel: A Long Road Ahead

Even if moons like Titan and Enceladus hold promise for future exploration, the challenges are immense. The distance between Earth and Saturn is vast, taking spacecraft years to travel. Developing the technology for sustained human travel over such distances is a hurdle yet to be overcome. Additionally, creating a habitable environment on a moon with such a harsh environment would require significant technological advancements.

The Future of Space Exploration

While colonizing Saturn itself might be a far-off dream, its moons present exciting possibilities for scientific exploration. Unraveling the mysteries of these distant worlds can shed light on the origins of our solar system and the potential for life beyond Earth. Studying Saturn and its moons also pushes the boundaries of human technology, inspiring innovation and paving the way for future deep space exploration endeavors.

In conclusion, Saturn’s story is one of ancient discovery and ongoing scientific exploration. While it might not be a future home for humans, the knowledge we gain from studying this ringed giant and its intriguing moons will undoubtedly play a crucial role in humanity’s journey toward understanding our place in the universe. Here are some additional thoughts on the future of Saturn’s role in space exploration:

Resource Potential:

  • Fueling Deep Space Travel: Saturn’s moons, particularly Titan, with its abundance of methane, could be a source of fuel for future spacecraft ventures deeper into the solar system. By extracting hydrogen from Titan’s methane or water ice from Enceladus, we could create propellant for rockets, establishing a refueling station in the outer solar system.
  • Building Materials: The icy surfaces of Saturn’s moons hold the potential for extracting valuable resources like water ice, which can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen for life support or rocket fuel. Additionally, minerals like silicon, found in abundance on many moons, could be used for construction purposes in future space habitats.

Scientific Outposts:

  • Research Stations: Establishing research outposts on moons like Enceladus or Titan would allow for an in-depth study of their environments and potential for life. Scientists could analyze samples directly, conduct experiments, and gather crucial data to further our understanding of these enigmatic worlds.
  • Astronomical Observatories: The distance from Saturn to the Sun offers a unique vantage point for astronomical observations. Placing telescopes on Saturn’s moons would allow scientists to study objects in the outer solar system and beyond with minimal interference from the Sun’s light and radiation.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Harsh Environment: The extreme temperatures, radiation levels, and lack of a breathable atmosphere on Saturn’s moons pose significant challenges for establishing human outposts. Advanced technologies for radiation shielding, temperature regulation, and resource extraction would be necessary.
  • Travel Time and Cost: The immense distance between Earth and Saturn makes travel time a major obstacle. Developing faster and more efficient propulsion systems would be crucial for reducing travel times and making such ventures more feasible. Additionally, the cost of establishing and maintaining outposts on Saturn’s moons would be immense, requiring international collaboration and significant investment.

Conclusion

Concluding the Saturn Statistics, Saturn and its moons represent a stepping stone in humanity’s exploration of the solar system. While colonizing them might not be the best option, they offer valuable resources, scientific opportunities, and a chance to push the boundaries of human technology.

As we continue to explore and learn from these distant worlds, we pave the way for a future where humanity can venture further and establish a more permanent presence in the vast expanse of space.

Ketaki Joshi
Ketaki Joshi

Ketaki Joshi is a professional medical writer with extensive experience in scientific research on illness, health, and healthcare. Her work includes creating feature articles for newsletters and websites, as well as research news stories for doctors and researchers. With a lifelong passion for reading, Ketaki transitioned from a career at a French multinational company to pursue writing professionally. Her dedication to the craft has culminated in the recent release of her first Amazon-published short story, "The Envelope That Changed Our Lives."

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