Saturn: The Big Ringed Planet (School Essay)

Posted on January 15, 2009

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Here’s an essay I did for school.


Saturn: The Big Ringed Planet

By Chad Thompson

You all probably know of Saturn, the big ringed planet. But there is a lot more about Saturn then what meets the eye…

Saturn is a really big planet, and I mean a REALLY big planet. It is the second biggest planet of them all (The first one being Jupiter) with a huge diameter of 60 268 kilometers. That’s nine times the diameter of Earth! Also, Saturn has a volume of 8.2713×1014 which means that if Saturn was hollow, you could put over 750 Earths inside it!

To the left is a rough comparison of Saturn and Earth. (Picture is created by NASA, not me)

Although Saturn is big, it is composed of entirely gas and has no stable (solid) surfaces Inside. So that means that if you tried to land a spacecraft on it, you would sink right through! Saturn also is the least dense planet in the solar system, less dense than water! (Water has a density of 0.997 g/cm3 and Saturn has a density of just 0.687 g/cm³) So that means that if you had a body of water big enough, Saturn would float on it!

Another NASA image not owned by me. This has nothing to do with science by the way.

Because of Saturn’s immense size, it has a stronger gravitational pull than most other planets do. Gravitational pull is an invisible force that attracts all nearby objects towards it. Think of it as a huge magnet out in space, pulling objects towards it. An example of this would be Earth’s moon; a long time ago, the Earth’s gravity snagged the Moon as it made a flyby of our planet and kept it rotating there for the past couple billion years or so. Now in Saturn’s case, instead of one lonely moon being trapped there, there are about 31 moon’s orbiting Saturn that we know of.

Or maybe this will explain more…..

Now, Saturn is no tropical paradise. If you were to live in the outer atmosphere of Saturn, you’d freeze! This is because Saturn is so far away from the sun (1.3 billion kilometers) that the sun’s rays aren’t as strong, so there’s less heat. However, if you lived inside the thick atmosphere, you would find it scorching hot! The temperature at the core can reach up to 11732 degree Celsius (21150 degree Fahrenheit)! This is because Saturn’s dense atmosphere acts like a blanket; trapping the Sun’s heat and building it up.

Now, of course you can’t have a good essay on Saturn without a few paragraphs dedicated to the famous rings of Saturn. So, most people have no idea what Saturn’s rings are made up of or how they came to be. Well, the rings appear to be solid when viewed from a distance but actually if you get closer you start to see that instead of one big chunk of…something making up the rings, it is actually made up of millions of asteroids and other space debris floating around in a continuous circle. How did this come to be, though? Well, back billions of years ago when the solar system was still young there was a lot of rocks and other junk floating around; some became part of the asteroid belt which is stationed between Mars and Jupiter, some floated off into deep space, some became moons and some, or should I say a lot, became part of Saturn’s rings.

Did you know that Saturn has more than one ring? It looks like it, but actually Saturn’s “ring” has multiple layers of rings, each layer a couple thousand km from each other. The layer that has distanced itself the most from the rest of the pack is called the Cassini division. This layer is almost 5 thousand kilometers from it’s neighbors.

Now I have no idea how much you know about Saturn or any other planet in the solar system. But I hope that you found this article interesting and learned something neat. So now you can go tell your friends that Saturn can float on water even though it is the second biggest planet in the solar system. Or you can tell them about Saturn’s rings and how they are made up of millions of pieces of space junk. Or you can write an article about Saturn yourself! Just make sure to give me credit J

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