The Ringed Planet

While Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have faint ring systems, none compare to the sheer size and beauty of Saturn’s rings, which are made up of countless individual particles of water ice, ranging in size from tiny grains to large chunks. Even more amazing is the fact that Saturn's rings are the flattest thing in the solar system! The main rings extend up to 85,000 miles from the center of Saturn and are typically just 30 feet thick. To put that into perspective, at the scale of the Arizona Scale Model Solar System, the rings would be a mere 2.1 inches wide and only 2 microns thick. That’s about the width of a bacterium!

Frigid Lakes and Rain

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon. It is a bit like Earth, with an atmosphere composed primarily of nitrogen and a surface pressure 1.5 times that of Earth. It is the only other body we know of with rivers and lakes. With a frigid surface temperature of minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit, water on Titan exists as rocks and mountains, while rain and rivers are primarily made of methane, commonly known as natural gas here on Earth.

University of Arizona Legacy

Professor Martin Tomasko of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory built the instrument for the Huygens probe that touched down on Titan in 2003 and sent back the first image from the surface of a moon other than Earth’s. Our knowledge of Titan is expected to greatly increase in the 2030s with the arrival of the Dragonfly mission led by LPL alumna, Dr. Elizabeth Turtle.


MASS: 5.7x10^26 kg 95 times Earth
DIAMETER: 120,536 km 9.5 that of Earth
SURFACE GRAVITY: 10.44 m/s2 1.06 that of Earth
AVG. DISTANCE TO SUN: 1.4 billion km 9.5 au

Saturn in the background with the moons Titon and Enceladus in front in cross section showing subsurface oceans and rocky cores.