Owen, Tobias C. Formerly, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii.
West, Robert A. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.
- Orbit and physical elements
- Photometric properties
- Internal structure and radiation belts
- Ring system
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The second largest planet in the solar system and the sixth in order of distance to the Sun. The outermost planet known prior to 1781, Saturn is surrounded by a beautiful system of rings, more than 50 moons, and a complex magnetosphere. Despite the planet's huge size, its mean density is so low that it could float in water. Saturn is also the only planet that has a satellite (Titan) with a dense atmosphere. This distant planetary system has been visited by four spacecraft: Pioneer 11 in 1979, Voyagers 1 and 2 in 1980–1981, and Cassini-Huygens since 2004. The first three were flybys; the last is a joint United States–European mission consisting of a Saturn orbiter and a probe into the atmosphere of Titan.
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