Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest planet in our solar system. Several planets have rings, but Saturn's icy, complex rings are the planet's claim to fame. Saturn is a gas giant made up of hydrogen and helium.

Saturn was first discovered in ancient times with unaided human eyesight. The planet is named after the Roman god of agriculture and wealth. Saturn was also the father of the Roman god Jupiter, so the gas giants share a family lineage according to their names.


1. NASA's Saturn Missions

NASA has sent four robotic spacecraft, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, and Cassini to observe Saturn. They gathered abundant data on Saturn's rings. The rings are actually bands of particles kept in place by extremely fast, strong winds circling the planet. The rings are approximately 400,000 kilometers, or 240,000 miles, wide. To put such measurements in perspective, the width of Saturn's rings is equal to the distance between Earth and the moon. Saturn is surrounded by 100 to 500 rings.

saturn's rings ClaudioVentrella / Getty Images

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