The Planet Saturn

Cassini Spacecraft Image

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Saturn is the second largest planet in our Solar System, and also the most distant planet from the Sun which was known in antiquity.

Saturn's most obvious feature through a telescope are its brilliant rings.

Cornell astronomers are involved in the Cassini spacecraft mission to saturn, which has mapped the rings, moons, and atmospheric storms of the planet in exquisite beauty.

It was only with the discovery of Uranus? in 1781 that a planet beyond Saturn's orbit became known. Past Cornell astronomers James Elliot, Edward Dunham, and Douglas Mink discovered the first rings of a planet other than Saturn, during 1977 observations of that planet. Since then, faint rings have also been found around Jupiter and Neptune as well.

Saturn is one of the most popular and beautiful targets, when visible, to see through the telescopes at Fuertes. Saturn's moon Titan and several of its smaller moons are also easily seen.

Current Cornell Research

Professor Joseph Burns has studied the stability and evolution of Saturn's rings as a member of the Cassini spacecraft team. Cassini was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn seven years later. It remains in orbit around Saturn today and is still in operation, photographing Saturn's moons and ring system as it maneuvers to new orbits to gain different perspectives.
Professor Peter Gierasch studies the winds, clouds, and atmospheric processes on the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Professor Phil Nicholson has discovered a number of new moons orbiting the outer solar system gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. His research involves uncovering how the distribution of moons of various sizes and orbits encodes information about the formation of the outer planets and Solar System.

Fuertes Observatory
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