Saturn- The Most Beautiful Planet
“Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and is the second largest is the solar system with the equatorial diameter of 1,19,300 Kilometers (74,130 miles). Much of what is known about the planet in due to (on account of) the Voyager explorations in 1980-81. Saturn is visibly flattened at the poles, a result of the very fast rotation of the planet on its axis. Its day is 10 hours, 39 minutes long and it takes 29.5 years to revolve round the sun. The atmosphere is primarily composed of hydrogen with small amounts of helium and methane. Saturn is the only planet less dense than water (about 30 percent less). Saturn’s hazy yellow hue is marked by broad atmospheric banding similar to, but fainter than that found on Jupiter.”
The wind blows at high speed on Saturn close to the equator, it reaches velocities of 550 meters a second (1,100 miles an hour).
The wind blows mostly in a easterly direction. The strongest winds are found near the equator and velocity falls off uniformly at higher latitude. At latitudes greater than 35 degrees, winds alternate east and west as latitude increases.
Saturn’s ring systems forms the planet one of the most beautiful objects in the solar system. The rings are split into a number of different parts which include the bright A and B rings and a fainter cring. Space probes have revealed that the main rings are indeed consisted of a large number of narrow ringlets. The origin to the rings is obscure. It is thought that the rings may have been formed from larger moons that were shattered by affects of comets and meteoroids. Radial, spoke-like features in the broad B-ring were also found by the Voyagers. The features are believed to be composed of fine, dust-size particles, the spokes were observed to form and dissipate in the time lapse images taken by the voyagers. Saturn has 18 named satellites and more than a dozen of newly reported satellites that have been envisaged provisional designation till they are verified and named.
On May 22, 1995 NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured Saturn, as the planet’s magnificent ring system turned edge-on. This ring plane crossing takes place approximately every 15 years when the Earth passed through Saturn’s ring plane.
The rings do not disappear totally for the edge of the rings reflects sunlight. The dark band across the middle of Saturn is a shadow of the rings cast on the planet (the Sun is almost 3 degrees above the ring plane). The bright stripe directly above the ring shadow is given rise to by sunlight reflected off the rings onto Saturn’s atmosphere. An image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, exhibits a rare storm that seems as a white arrow head-shaped feature near the planet’s equator. The storm is caused by an upwelling of warmer air, similar to terrestrial thunderhead. The Hubble images are sharp enough to show that Saturn’s prevailing winds shape a dark “Wedge” that eats into the western (left) side of the bright central cloud. The storm’s while clouds are ammonia ice crystals that form when an upward flow of warmer gases shoves its way through Saturn’s frigid cloud tops.
The top image shows that first image ever taken or bright aurora at Saturn’s northern and southern poles as seen in far ultraviolet light by the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble resolves a luminous, circular band centered on the north pole where an enormous aurora curtain rises as far as 2,000 kilometer (1,200 miles) above the cloud tops. For comparison, the bottom image is a visible-light colour composite of Saturn as seen by Hubble on December 1, 1994 evidences that unlike the ultraviolet image, Saturn’s familiar atmospheric belts and zones are apparently seen. The lower cloud deck is not reflected from higher in the atmosphere.
On July 11, 2001, an international astronomer’s team claimed to have spotted 12 more moons orbiting Saturn, putting the ringed planet ahead of Jupiter as the planet with most satellites. That brings the unofficial count of Saturnian moons to 30, two more than that of Jupiter.
Last view of Saturn :
Two days after its encounter with Saturn, Voyager-1 looked back on the planet from a distance of more than 5.0 million kilometers (3.0 million miles).
This view of Saturn has never been seen by an earth based telescope, since the earth is so close to the sun only the sunlit face of Saturn can be seen.
Saturn has 18 officially recognized and named satellite. In addition, there are other unconfirmed satellite. One circles in the orbit of Dione, a second is located between the orbits of Tethys and Dione, and a third is located between Dione and Rhea. The unconfirmed satellite were found in Voyager photographs, but were not confirmed by more than one sighting, Recently the Hubble Space Telescope imaged four objects that might be new moons.
Several generalizations can be made about the satellites of Saturn. Only Titan has an appreciable atmosphere. Most of the Satellites have a synchronous rotation. The exceptions are Hyperion which has a chaotic orbit and Phoebe. Saturn has a regular system of satellites. That is the satellites have nearly circular orbits and lie in the equatorial plane. The two exception are Lapetus and Phoebe. A lot of probe of the Saturn is yet to complete, nothing certain can so far be said about the Saturn, but a mystery is being showed. What earlier sounds impossible is on the verge of solutions.
“It is difficult to say what is impossible for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow.”