Location and Orbit
The Atmosphere and
Interior and Physical Structure
Moons and Rings
Missions to Saturn
References & Links
Saturn: Interior and Physical Structure
||5.68 x 1026 kg
|Dipole Magnetic Field Strength
Though Saturn is only second to Jupiter in size, it is the least dense of the planets, with a comparative density of 0.7 (compared to 1.0 for water). Constituted similarly to Jupiter, 75% of Saturn is composed of hydrogen and 25% of helium. It still retains trace amounts of the water, methane, ammonia, and rock from its birth in the pre-solar system nebula.
The center of Saturn is a rocky core. Surrounding it is a liquid metallic hydrogen layer, surrounded in turn by a molecular hydrogen layer. The core is a sizzling 1.20 x 105 degrees Celsius: Saturn radiates more energy than it receives from the Sun. Like Jupiter, much of this heat is due to the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism: the slow, self-regulated coupling of cooling and gaseous contracting, where the gasses of a solar body becomes more “condensed” as they bleed heat into the atmosphere. Saturn still radiates more heat than the Kelvin-Helmholtz principle can explain. Consequently, atronomers believe that there is another mechanism at work leaking the ancient heat of Saturn’s core out into space.
Copyright © 2000 by Gary Chan and Matthew McDermott. All rights reserved.