As humans, our fascination with the solar system has been inspired by watching the stars and enjoying gazing at the vastness of the universe. One of the best-known planets in the solar system is Saturn. Famous for its rings, Saturn is known as an outer gas planet, along with Jupiter. In fact, Saturn and Jupiter share so much of their materials and atmosphere, including similar rotations, that they are considered as relatives. The second-largest planet in our solar system was first recorded in the 8th Century and has since become a much-beloved sight in our solar system. Saturn facts for kids is a great way of learning about this incredible planet.
Saturn Facts for Kids: The Ringed Planet
Named after the Roman father of the god Jupiter, Saturn was the god of agriculture in Roman mythology. Due to the time, it took our solar system to settle into its rotation pattern, a cool 4.5 billion years, gravity pulled all of the dust and swirling gas together to form the gas giant of Saturn and around 4 billion years ago, it settled in the location that we see today in the outer solar system. Saturn and Jupiter are both made up, mostly, of hydrogen and helium which are the same two elements that make up the sun. This is why Saturn is considered a gas giant. Saturn’s central core is made up of multiple metals. These metals are incredibly dense and include nickel and iron as well as being surrounded by rocky materials and other compounds that are solidified due to the intense heat and pressure.
Similar to Jupiter’s core, Saturn’s core almost has an enveloped area of liquid metallic hydrogen inside a layer of liquid hydrogen which protects the core. Though, neither of these gas giants have a true surface. Saturn is made up of mostly swirling liquids and gases deeper down, which makes it an impossible task to land any spacecraft on its surface. Due to its complex and incredible pressures and temperatures, their intensity would cause any craft to be crushed, melted, and vaporised if it attempted to land. Combining Jupiter and Saturn together makes up 92% of the entire mass of the Solar System – a huge amount! Saturn’s interior or inside is incredibly hot as well and it can reach temperatures of up to 11,700 degrees celsius. Not only that, but Saturn’s atmosphere is also made up of 96% hydrogen, 4% helium, and contains trace amounts of acetylene, ethane, ammonia, methane, and phosphine. Not something that would be particularly nice to breathe in. Another excellent Saturn facts for kids.
Beautiful Planets: Saturn
Saturn is an incredibly complex planet which has a layer of atmosphere that has wind speeds as high as 1,800 kph which are thought to be some of the solar system’s fastest known wind speeds. Even though it can’t really be seen, it’s not only rings that appear around the planet. Saturn has banded cloud patterns that are widest at the equator than those that are found on Jupiter. They were discovered during the Voyager missions in the 1970s. The clouds are rather beautiful and look like striped light jet streams and even storms with brown, grey, and yellow colours throughout them. Jupiter is renowned for its Great Red Spot, but Saturn’s atmosphere, in turn, is coloured with white spots dotted around it. These signify the short-lived storms that appear after every full Saturn orbit. You can watch them through the Hubble Space Telescope – which helps us understand more Saturn facts for kids.
The winds on Saturn are worth discussion due to their incredible strength. The velocity of the winds in Saturn’s upper atmosphere around the equator can reach 1,600 feet per second. If you compare it to the Earth’s strongest hurricane-force winds, they are a measly 360 feet per second. So, Saturn wins for its extremity. Not only that, but the pressure of the gases is so powerful that, if it were possible for you to be within it, the pressure would make you feel like you were diving deep under the water. Saturn’s pressure is so intense that it squeezes anything gaseous into a liquid form. Saturn’s magnetic field is a whopping 578 times more powerful than Earth’s. Saturn and its rings consist of a lot of satellites in its enormous magnetosphere. This is the region of space where electrically charged particles are influenced less by solar wind and instead, are controlled by Saturn’s magnetic field.
Saturn Facts for Kids: The Charged Planet
This charged planet has a thing called an aurorae that occurs due to its conductivity. An aurorae happens when charged particles enter a magnetic field that lines any planet’s atmosphere. The Earth contains charged particles that hit our magnetic fields from solar winds. The Cassini spacecraft showed that, like Jupiter, some of Saturn’s aurorae are unaffected by solar wind. It is believed by scientists that Saturn’s aurorae are caused by particles that come from its moons, which leave through the magnetic field, rotating rapidly. Saturn has inspired the study of non-solar originating aurorae and it is still a mystery to this day. Speaking of moons, Saturn has, currently, 53 confirmed moons and an additional nine provisional moons that are still to be confirmed by scientists as moons. Another example of brilliant Saturn facts for kids.
While referred to as the ‘Ringed Planet’, these rings consist mostly of ice and dust. 20 metres in thickness, the rings expand out over 12,700 kilometres from Saturn. Scientists believe that the rings are pieces of asteroids, comets, or even shattered moons that had broken up before they had even hit the planet, before becoming smaller pieces due to being torn apart by the tremendous gravity of the planet. Now, these materials have transformed into billions of pieces of ice that are coated with other dust materials. The particles range in size from the tiniest granules to large pieces as big as a house. Some are even as big as mountains. Each ring also orbits around Saturn at a different speed creating a beautiful and ethereal effect. These same rings expand out over 175,000 miles but the height of the main rings are vertically only around 30 feet. The rings are named in alphabetical order based on when they were discovered. Surprisingly, the rings are incredibly close together, with the exception of Rings A and B, as they have a 2,920-mile gap known as the Cassini Division between them. Saturn facts for kids are fascinating.