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International Edition Winners 2009: Zambia (High School)

International Edition Winners 2009: Zambia (High School)


Lweendo E.J Hachamba
Saturn and Rings
Saturn and Rings
Lweendo E.J Hachamba

Mpelembe High School

Kitwe, Zambia



"Planets are celestial bodies that orbit the sun and shine by their reflected light. There are 9 planets in the Solar System believed to have formed from the condensation of gases and other lesser bodies.

Saturn is the 6th planet in the Solar System and is the second largest. Saturn was named after the Roman god of agriculture. Its most distinctive feature is its rings which were observed by Italian Scientist, Galileo in 1610. He didn’t realize that they are separate and described them as handles. However, this was corrected by Dutch Astronomer, Christiaan Huygens.

I decided to write about Saturn because it is a unique planet having the potential to bring positive change to man’s life if probed more.

Increased exploration of the planet would bring out amazing discoveries and increase man’s knowledge about it. As a young scientist I believe more information/knowledge about the planet will certainly lead to the development of man’s abode, way of life and many other dimensions of his life.

Saturn is a gas planet which spins rapidly on its axis. It spins so fast that it flattens out the top and bottom of the planet. Its fast spin causes it to bulge at the equator.
It has over 1000 rings made of ice and dust particles. The sizes of the particles are believed to have come from the distraction of moons circling the planet. As comets and meteorites smash the moons, Saturn’s gravitational pull shaped particles into rings. The rings are named in order of their discovery. They are the D, C, B, A, F, G and E rings.

As seen from the earth, Saturn appears as a yellowish object and is one of the brightest in the night sky.

Saturn’s mean density is one eighth of that of the earths as it consists mainly of hydrogen. Saturn is still settling gravitationally following its accretion, from the great cloud of interstellar gas and dust from which the entire solar system was formed.

Its atmosphere comprises; Hydrogen88%, Helium11%, traces of Methane, Ammonia crystals and others such as ethane, ethane and Phosphine.

Saturn’s magnetic field is weaker that Jupiter’s and its magnetosphere is one third of that of Jupiter.

There are 46 significant satellites out of the 52 that have been discovered so far. These include Dione, Enceladus (the brightest), Hyperion, Iapetus, Mimas (the 7th moon), Rhea, Tethys and Titan the largest.

Only three United States spacecrafts have enormously increased our knowledge of Saturnian’s System though there is still need for more exploration. The Pioneer 11 Probe flew past the planet in September 1979 followed by Voyager 1 in November 1980 and in Voyager 2 in August 1981. The Cassini Spacecraft in January 2005 landed a probe, Huygens on Titans surface.

Not much is known about Saturn and its rings. The Cassini spacecraft should therefore image Saturn and its rings. I believe it is important to know about the planet itself before getting to know about its satellites."