Saturn

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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Vital Statistics

As Seen From Earth

Saturn's Rings

Object Distance (inner edge)
from Saturn
Distance (outer edge)
from Saturn
Width
D Ring 0 7800 mi. 7800 mi.
C Ring 7800 mi. 19750 mi 11950 mi.
B Ring 19750 mi 37420 mi. 17670 mi.
Cassini Division 37420 mi. 40420 mi. 3000 mi.
A Ring 40420 mi. 50120 mi. 9700 mi.
Gap 50120 mi. 52820 mi. 2700 mi.
F ring 52820 mi. 52870 mi. 50 mi.

Makeup of the Rings

The Moons of Saturn

Saturn has 52 known satellites as of 2008, 7 of which were discovered by the Voyager spacecraft. The largest and most interesting is Titan, which is 3600 miles in diameter and 922,000 miles from Saturn. It is the only satellite to have a thick atmosphere, and a surprisingly dense one, too: 1.6 atmospheres.

In Greek mythology, Saturn fathered the Titans as well as Jupiter (who became ruler of Olympus after defeating the Titans). So Saturn's moons were named after Titans and their descendants. More recently the naming has been extended to giants from other cultures' mythologies.

Pan

Atlas (A Ring Shepherd)

Prometheus (Inner F-ring Shepherd)

Pandora (Outer F-ring Shepherd)

Janus and Epimetheus (Co-orbital moons)

Mimas

Enceladus

Tethys

Telesto and Calypso (Tethys Lagramgian moons)

Dione

Helene (Dione Lagrangian moon)

Rhea

Titan

Hyperion

Iapetus

Phoebe

Dance of the Moons

If Jupiter was created by a special-effects artist, Saturn was designed by a choreographer. Nowhere else do we find such an intricate set of orbital relationships among moons. There are shepherd moons, gaps in the rings created by resonances with satellites, co-orbital moons and Moons in Trojan configuration.

For more information on interactions between moons and rings, see Rings and Resonances

References

Pioneer 11 Saturn Encounter.
Special issue of Science, vol. 207, No. 4429, January 25, 1980.
Voyager 1 Saturn Encounter.
Special issue of Science, vol. 212, No. 4491, April 10, 1981.
Voyager 2 Saturn Encounter.
Special issue of Science, vol. 215, No. 4532, January 29, 1982.

NASA Publications:


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Created 20 May 1997, Last Update 14 December 2009

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