Astronomy Closer Look: Saturn

Discussion in 'Astronomy' started by JcMinJapan, Sep 9, 2004.

  1. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    Saturn is 1,427 million km from the Sun.
    A day on Saturn is equal to 10 h & 14 min on Earth, while a year on Saturn is 29.5 Earth Years
    Saturn has 18 satellites (moons) plus it has the famous rings.
    It is the 2nd largest planet next to Jupiter and has a diameter at the equator of 120,536 km and its mass is 5.688e26 kg
    The atmosphere is made up of 96% Hydrogen; 3% Helium and some Methane and Ammonia.

    Cool Facts:

    Saturn was named after the Roman god of agriculture, and was the father of Jupiter. The Greeks called it Cronus.

    The rings are estimated about a kilometer thick. They are made up of billions of small particles, each up to a few metres in diameter. The ring are made up mostly of ice and rock. The rings are formed by the gravitational fields of Saturn and its moons.

    Galileo first discovered Saturn in 1610.

    Saturn is the only planet in our solar system that is less dense that water

    The wind at the equator will blow about 500m/sec or 1,100 miles an hour.


    TITAN
    Titan is the second largest satellite/moon in the solar system. Only Ganymede which is one of Jupiters moons is larger and Titan is actually larger in diameter than Mercury and Pluto.

    It is also the only moon in the Solar System with a large atmosphere. Like Earth, Titan's major atmospheric gas is nitrogen.
    Titan is composed of about 50% ice and 50% rocky material, with an average surface temperature of -149 degrees C (-300 degrees F).

    More to come on Titan. I am sure with the valuable information coming from Cassini, there will have to be a seperate thread for tital alone.


    For very detailed information and great photos of Saturn visit NASA

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  2. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    Just in!! Saturns Ring is actually a spiral!
    So, many things to learn about our environment. I love all this new information and space exploration.....

     
  3. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Whats amazing is the rings are pratically perfect in a circle. You would think that they would be in some sort of disarray at some point in time during rotation or orbit around the sun.

    But the question that I have asked, and only theories have been told, from what I have asked:

    Where did the matter contained in the rings come from? Saturn itself, or from another satellite that dissolved?
     
  4. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    I have been trying to find some good answers to your questions. It is very hard to know 100% what the rings are actually made of, because no spacecraft has ever collected any samples. But, I did find this website... http://www.solstation.com/stars/saturn.htm

    1.gif

    The rings are mostly made of ice and/or ice covered rocks or materials. They range from being dust sized to large boulders. Most of the rings have formed probably before the earth even had dinosaurs and probably the youngest are about that old.
    So, it is basically impossble to give 100% on how they have been formed. the only way would be for a rarely seen even to happen that we could observe it actually happening with cassini.
     
  5. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Thanks JC for doing your best on that, I appreciate it, I guess we will have to wait to see what the future holds in collecting info.
     
  6. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Rivers on Titan, one of Saturn's moons, resemble those on Earth
    Recent evidence from the Huygens Probe of the Cassini Mission suggests that Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn, is a world where rivers of liquid methane sculpt channels in continents of ice. Surface images even show gravel-sized pieces of water ice that resemble rounded stones lying in a dry riverbed on Earth.

    But with a surface temperature of minus 179 degrees Celsius and an atmospheric pressure 1-1/2 times that of Earth, could fluvial processes on Titan be anything like those on Earth?

    "The idea that rivers of methane moving chunks of ice on Titan ought to obey the same rules as rivers on Earth is not what you would assume at first," said Gary Parker, the W. H. Johnson Professor of Geology and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "However, if river dynamics are truly understood at a physical level, then relations that provide reasonable results on Earth ought to provide similarly reasonable results on Titan."

    Parker, who has collected data from rivers all over the world, has calculated what should be key similarities and key differences between river networks on Earth and Titan.

    There are only three parameters that differ significantly between Earth and Titan, Parker said. First is the acceleration due to gravity -- on Titan it is about one-seventh the value on Earth. Second is the viscosity of flowing fluid -- the viscosity of liquid methane on Titan is about one-fifth that of water on Earth.

    Third is the submerged specific gravity of sediment -- the value on Titan is about two-thirds of that on Earth.

    "What this means is that for the same discharge of liquid methane as to water, the channel characteristics on Titan should be remarkably similar to those on Earth," Parker said. "However, because of the smaller acceleration due to gravity, channel slopes on Titan should be wider, deeper and less steep than those on Earth."

    Wildcards that make Parker's predictions tentative include a freeze-thaw process of methane that might not be analogous to the freeze-thaw process of water on Earth, and the formation of hydrocarbons on Titan that might add a kind of cohesion not encountered on Earth. "The interaction of sunlight with a hydrocarbon rich atmosphere could possibly precipitate very sticky compounds that could give streams on Titan a degree of cohesion that makes them behave differently," Parker said.

    If the underlying physics has been captured correctly, Parker's correlations could be used to predict river features not just on Earth and Titan, but elsewhere as well; revealing the internal consistency of fluvial processes at work under vastly different conditions.

    "We are now receiving images from Mars that show relic rivers. But these analogues to what has happened on Earth are very, very old and the processes may not have been very strong," Parker said. "What is happening on Titan, however, may be every bit as active and exciting as what is happening on Earth."

    Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
     
  7. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    International research team reports on the Earth-like surface of Saturn's moon Titan

    Conditions on Saturn's moon Titan, with its dense atmosphere, are similar to those on Earth early in our solar system. Pictures and spectral analysis of Titan's surface, recorded by an international scientific team including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), show a dried-out "river" landscape. Evaluating the data has now shown that methane on Titan exists in solid, liquid, and gas states, and plays a similar role in Titan's atmosphere and on its surface that water plays on Earth. Water ice on Titan congeals to be similar to stone on Earth: it makes up a major component of the Titan's surface. "Stones" made presumably largely of water ice show signs of erosion and transport through a liquid. (Nature, Advanced Online Publication, November 30, 2005).

    With a diameter of about 5,150 kilometres, Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It has a dense atmosphere which we mostly cannot see through. Until recently, Titan was one of the few objects in the solar system whose surface was not researched. In 1997, the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn was launched. The NASA spaceship Cassini reached Saturn's orbit in 2004 and since then has been investigating the ringed planet and its moons. The Huygens probe of the European Space Agency ESA separated from Cassini at the end of 2004 and landed on Titan on January 14, 2005, after a two-and-a-half hour descent through the atmosphere.

    Among the scientific instruments aboard Huygens were the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR), plus a combination of 14 cameras, spectrometers for visible and infrared light, and photometers. The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research developed the CCD detector, which received the signal from all the cameras and spectrometers in the visible wavelengths.

    During descent, as well as after Huygens landed, the DISR investigated the atmosphere and surface of Titan. At first sight, it is similar to a landscape on Earth. We can see the courses of rivers, which lead from a higher-lying area to a lower, flat terrain, bordered by a kind of coastline. Spectral analysis showed indeed that materials from the higher areas were transported down to a "sea".

    With a diameter of about 5,150 kilometres, Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It has a dense atmosphere which we mostly cannot see through. Until recently, Titan was one of the few objects in the solar system whose surface was not researched. In 1997, the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn was launched. The NASA spaceship Cassini reached Saturn's orbit in 2004 and since then has been investigating the ringed planet and its moons. The Huygens probe of the European Space Agency ESA separated from Cassini at the end of 2004 and landed on Titan on January 14, 2005, after a two-and-a-half hour descent through the atmosphere.

    Among the scientific instruments aboard Huygens were the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR), plus a combination of 14 cameras, spectrometers for visible and infrared light, and photometers. The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research developed the CCD detector, which received the signal from all the cameras and spectrometers in the visible wavelengths.

    During descent, as well as after Huygens landed, the DISR investigated the atmosphere and surface of Titan. At first sight, it is similar to a landscape on Earth. We can see the courses of rivers, which lead from a higher-lying area to a lower, flat terrain, bordered by a kind of coastline. Spectral analysis showed indeed that materials from the higher areas were transported down to a "sea".