Saturn, “the gas planet,” is composed of 96 percent hydrogen and four percent helium. But it's 100 percent my favorite planet!
Galileo Galilei first discovered Saturn in 1610. He described its rings as “handles.” Conveniently, Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens also reported seeing Saturn, which he once described as having “a thin flat ring which nowhere touches the body.”
Though all gaseous planets have rings, Saturn's are by far the most recognizable. Unlike the other 'gas giants,' Saturn is visible from Earth's surface. This large planet is nine times the size of Earth.
Saturn’s rings consist of ice chunks, countless molecules, rock chunks, and space dust. They are brighter than the rings of other planets because they are tipped toward Earth.
Saturn is located between Jupiter and Neptune, and the planet's diameter is 120,000 kilometers. It has a density of 0.69 grams cubic altimeters, which is less than water. Saturn’s surface is -178 degrees Celsius and its orbital distance from Earth is 1.3 billion kilometers.
Saturn is made up of three main layers: the outer mantle, core, and inner mantle. Each layer is composed of hydrogen-rich compounds, like ammonia ice, ammonium hydrosulfide ice, and water ice. Saturn's outer layer is composed of hydrogen gas that has been pressured into liquid hydrogen. Its core is made of solid ice and is 11,700 degrees Celcius. Saturn's inner mantle is primarily made of metallic hydrogen, which cannot be found on Earth because it forms in space due to high pressure. To wrap it all up, the outer shell of Saturn is made of a thick layer of ice.
Saturn is an awesome planet for many reasons, especially because of its history and how unique it is in comparison to other planets.
[Sources: Atlas of the Universe; NASA]