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Monday, July 20, 2009


Saturn is the next biggest planet in the solar system. Saturn and some of its moons can be seen in the composite image at left. Four more moons were found in late 2000 and 9 more were discovered recently for a total of 31. Scientists are tracking more objects that may be additional moons.
The Voyager missions found winds, magnetic field, auroras and lightning on the planet similar to Jupiter. Also, the planet has light colored cloud bands (zones) and darker bands (belts) like the larger gas giant.
The facinating ring system observed by Galileo in 1610 is only begining to be understood. At first thought to be a solid ring it is now known to be thousands of water ice particles with some chunks as big as a small car. The rings are held in place by moons that "shephard" the particles and keep them in a series of ringlets. Some gaps like the Casinni Division separate the ringlets called the "A Ring", "B Ring" and so on. The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft will pass through between the "F" and "G" rings on its way to orbit Saturn.


Balanced Eco-system

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