The rings of Saturn are formed of ice and rock. The size of these components varies. Some are the size of a grain of sand. Others are the size of a home. All are very small compared to its moon, Titan.
The largest ring is called RING A and it has a mean radius of about 9,500 miles (15,500 km). It takes approximately five years to completely orbit Saturn.
The next-largest ring is called RING B and it has a mean radius of about 7,200 miles (11,800 km).
The smallest ring is called RING C and it has a mean radius of only about 3,600 miles (5,900 km).
All the rings of Saturn are extremely thin, with thicknesses less than 0.3 percent that of Earth's atmosphere. They are also quite bright, especially when illuminated by sunlight from beyond Saturn's shadow.
The most obvious feature of the rings is their variety: there are three main types.
RINGS A AND B consist mainly of many smaller bodies called moons. These rings are analogous to the main belt in our own Moon's relationship with Earth.
Saturn's rings are nearly completely comprised of water ice, with pieces ranging in size from dust to boulders the size of a house. And all of Saturn's moons contain a lot of water ice. Enceladus, Saturn's moon, is predicted to have a water-ice-rich mantle encircling a silicate core. The other moons found in orbit around Saturn also appear to be mostly made of water ice.
Enceladus' water may well have come from within the planet, perhaps from deep within its interior where it had been vaporized by heat and then condensed again into ice. But it could also have come from outside the planet, possibly pulled off one of the larger moons when it passed by Enceladus in the early days of Saturn's evolution.
Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has a thick crust of ice over a mixture of gases including 90% nitrogen and 10% methane. But even this thin crust is more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) deep, indicating that Titan must have an extremely strong gravitational field to hold itself together at such depths. This probably results from the fact that most of Titan is made up of ice, with only a small amount of rock left over from when it was part of a larger body that broke up long ago.
Io, the least massive of Saturn's moons, is very different from the others. It has no atmosphere and seems to consist almost entirely of lava flows from a former oceanic surface.
Saturn is the only planet that is adorned with hundreds of magnificent ringlets. Saturn's rings are not the only ones comprised of ice and rock, but none are as magnificent or as intricate as Saturn's. Saturn, like Jupiter, is a huge globe composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. However it has a thin atmosphere of gas particles including oxygen, nitrogen, and traces of other chemicals.
The average temperature of Saturn is -179 degrees Celsius. Although this may sound cold, it is actually very warm compared to the rest of the planet because most of its body is made up of frozen hydrogen and helium gases.
Saturn was originally thought to be a star but new research indicates that it might be a large black hole instead. The theory suggests that when a star runs out of fuel, it will collapse under its own weight and form a black hole. If this is true, then Saturn has been around for many millions of years which means that it must be a supermassive black hole located in our galaxy's center.
In conclusion, Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system after Jupiter. It has four major moons: Titan, Uranus's moon Miranda, Neptune's moon Triton, and Saturn's main moon Titan. It is estimated that Saturn is about 99% water by mass. Its diameter is approximately 9,448 miles making it larger than all the other planets combined.
Saturn's rings are far more reflective (water ice) than those of Jupiter, Uranus, or Neptune. They just contain a lot more substance. The reason for this is that Saturn is much bigger than any of the other planets in our solar system.
The mass of Saturn is about 9% that of all the matter in the galaxy. So, even though it's made up of hydrogen and helium, which are very light elements, it still has a huge amount of material on it.
Our sun will one day collapse into a white dwarf, evaporating away its atmosphere in the process. If Saturn had formed around then, it would have disappeared too. The only thing keeping it alive now is that it's inside a planet called Titan that has itself survived because it's shielded from the sun by its ring system.
Titan is actually the largest moon in our solar system. It has a dense atmosphere made of nitrogen and methane and it has water ice underneath its surface. In fact, if you added up all the water on Earth and put it in one place, it would be enough to fill Titan once every 10 years or so!
Titan is also the only moon in the solar system that has been visited by humans.
Saturn, the solar system's second biggest planet, is a "gas giant" consisting largely of hydrogen and helium. But it's most recognized for the brilliantly colored rings that circle its equator. The rings are made up of numerous ice and rock particles that circle Saturn independently. They were first seen by astronomer William Herschel in 1789.
Saturn was one of the first planets to be discovered by astronomers. It took them several years, because during the time they were observing Jupiter every few months with their telescopes, no one realized that another planet existed beyond Jupiter. In 1610 Johannes Kepler published his book "Astronomia Nova," which included drawings of five planets including one called Saturn. However, he based this drawing on observations of Jupiter not Saturn because at the time scientists believed that the Earth was the only planet in our galaxy.
It wasn't until about a hundred years later that other astronomers started seeing evidence of another planet through her measurements. By measuring the distance between stars inside and outside the orbit of Jupiter, astronomers could estimate the size of Jupiter and thus any other planet around it. This method showed that there was a third body present in the Solar System besides Jupiter and the Sun. This body was eventually determined to be Saturn.
In 1655 Isaac Newton published his book "Principia Mathematica," which included diagrams of four more planets including one called Saturn.