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Image Tour: Saturn

Visit Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun, with its beautiful rings made up of icy particles.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University

  • Images of Saturn: STScI


 Text, Saturn Image Tour 

Fast Facts. Location, The solar system; sixth planet from the sun. Distance From Earth, Orbit ranges from 750-930 million miles. Size, 75,000 miles in diameter (without rings). Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope 

Saturn is known for its magnificent ring system. 

Stretching nearly 170,000 miles across, the rings are composed of icy particles that range in size from dust specks to boulders and are less than 300 feet thick. 

Tour Stop, Atmosphere. Strong winds, racing at up to 1,000 miles per hour, create the bands in Saturn's atmosphere 

Bands next to one another flow in opposite directions. 

In this visible light image, Saturn's atmosphere appears relatively calm. 

Infrared image from the Cassini spacecraft. Infrared images, however, pierce the clouds to reveal a number of violent storms below. 

Tour Stop, Main Rings. Astronomers have defined three main rings of Saturn - labeled A, B, and C. 

A represents the outermost rings, B represents the middle rings, C represents the innermost rings. 

Saturn has additional rings that cannot be seen in this image - D, E, and G, which are too faint, and F, which is extremely thin. 

Tour Stop, Ringlets. Saturn's rings may look solid, but they are composed of thousands of individual ringlets. 

Here are some of the thin ringlets that can be distinguished. 

Tour Stop, Ring Gaps. Gaps that are almost empty of particles separate the rings. 

Cassini Division between B Ring and A Ring 

The gravity of the Moon Mimas, orbiting far beyond the ring system, helps create the Cassini Division, a gap between the A and B rings. 

The outer part of the A ring is broken by the Encke Gap. 

The tiny moon Pan orbits within this gap. 

Atmosphere, Main Rings, Ringlets, Ring Gaps