Saturn, The Planet


Demo Saturn can be modeled by placing a 14 inch diameter beachball inside a 32 inch diameter Beamo flying ring. The outer diameter of the bright rings is 2.3 times the diameter of Saturn.

Demo The equatorial diameter of Saturn is 9.4 times the diameter of the earth. In our model 9 ping pong balls line up across the diameter of the beachball, thus the ping pong ball to beachball ratio shows the relative sizes of the earth and Saturn.

This means that the volume of Saturn is about 93 = 730 times the volume of the earth.

Demo If you find a hollow spherical shell that is 4 inches in diameter (they are sold at a craft stores and split in half), you can fill each half with 1/2 inch diameter marbles. However the marbles leave some empty space as they fill it. Since the outer sphere is 8 times the diameter of the marbles it has 83 = 512 times the volume of each marble. However the spheres only fill part of the volume and so about 100 marbles fit into each half of the sphere. Random packing of spheres fills up about 64% of the volume. A large number of earths would fit inside Saturn.

Saturn is a planet made mostly of Hydrogen and Helium.

It has a low density, the density of Saturn is 0.69 g/cm^3. It is less dense than water.

Which means that if you put Saturn in a bathtub full of water it would float...of course if you then rained the tub Saturn might leave a bathtub ring.

Eric Wegryn points out that if you actually did put Saturn in a large tub of water the core would sink through the fluffy low density atmosphere and it would be left behind in the tub not the ring.

Saturn is made of 97% H2, 3% He plus impurities.

Demo: Hydrogen Balloon, feel the lightness of the balloon. Ignite the balloon and allow it to react with oxygen. Bang! There is no oxygen on Saturn the hydrogen cannot go bang.

As you descend into Saturn the pressure and the density increase. The temperature starts out high then decreases to a minimum and then increases again. The center of Saturn is much hotter than the surface of the sun.

Saturn is a fluid throughout. There is no solid surface on Saturn. At high elevations the atmosphere is hot and thin, as we descend into the planet the atmosphere gets thicker and colder. At a pressure of 0.1 of the pressure at the surface of the earth we reach the cloud tops on Saturn. No one knows what chemical gives the clouds on Saturn their color. Descend further and the atmosphere cools some more, when the atmosphere is the same density as the surface of the earth it has a temperature of 140 K. The temperature decreases to a minimum of 80 K and then starts to increase once again. Saturn gives out more energy than it receives from the sun. So the center of Saturn must be warmer than the surface.

Saturn Rotates in a little over 10 hours.

The rapid rotation creates a large equatorial bulge. The equatorial bulge helps hold the rings in the plane of the equator of Saturn.(Return to rings)