For the longest time, scientists have been trying to determine the length of the day on various planets in our solar system. A recent report from January 17 has revealed how long a day lasts on the ringed planet Saturn.
Initially, scientists tried to determine the length of the day on Saturn by observing the movement of clouds. This proved to be highly ineffective. One thing that does seem to help in determining this are the ripples that may be found on Saturn’s rings. According to them, a day on the planet lasts for 10 hours, 33 minutes, and 30 seconds.
That is really fast when compared to our planets daily cycle. Saturn is around nine times larger than the Earth, yet its day lasts half as long.
During previous studies, scientists tried to determine the length of the day on Saturn by using radio measurements. These measurements were conducted by the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s. The Cassini orbiter performed another set of measurements during the 2000s. These estimates came close, but they were usually off by around 20 minutes.
The first real breakthrough regarding this came in 1993 when scientists realized that the seismic activity on Saturn influences the particles in its rings. As the gas on the planet stirs the oscillations in the rings, it provides information about the way the planet spins. The scientists were surprised at the amount of information they were able to gather just from observing these rings.
One thing that the rotation rates might help reveal when it comes to Saturn is how the planet is structured. Scientists speculate that Saturn’s core is around 15 times the mass our entire planet. It was previously believed that the planet rotates as a rigid ball similar to our planet, but now it seems as though the planet actually rotates in layers, and every layer rotates at a different speed.
Now it is up to the researchers to examine all the individual layers to learn more about this ringed giant.