Could I bring the Earth's atmosphere to Saturn?
Why does Saturn have rings?
When the telescope was invented, humans were able to take a closer look at other planets for the first time. One thing caught my eye right from the start: Saturn with its rings.
From a distance, the rings look like a tight band around the planet. But with calculations and special measurements it was found that the rings consist of billions of small dust particles, ice crystals and rocks. They all orbit evenly around Saturn, in a dense, flat cloud so that they appear like a disk in the telescope.
It used to look like this around all planets. But elsewhere, the chunks in the cloud of dust contracted over time and formed moons. The only thing that wasn't possible was directly around Saturn: Here the gravitational force of the nearby giant planet disturbed - that's how the dust cloud circles to this day. A little further away from Saturn this disturbance is weaker, so that Saturn moons could form there.
The other major planets - Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune - also have rings. However, Saturn's rings are made of a particularly bright material and are therefore easiest to see in a telescope.
What is our solar system and how did it come about?
The earth is not alone in space: people have been observing the sun, moon and stars in the sky for a long time. They discovered early on that some stars are moving. These wandering stars were observed and their paths followed. For a long time, however, their movements were not understood - until about five hundred years ago a man by the name of Nicolaus Copernicus solved the riddle: The earth and the "wandering stars" are actually planets, all of which orbit the sun at different distances.
Today we know eight planets. To remember their names in the correct order, the first letters of the sentence "M.a Vater eclarifies mir jEden S.monday uurens Nachthimmel. “- or in short: M-V-E-M-J-S-U-N.
M.Erkur is the planet that orbits closest to the sun. Then come Venus, E.rde and M.ars. These four inner planets have a solid surface made of rock and are still relatively close to the sun - only a few hundred million kilometers.
They are circling further out, at a distance of about one to 4.5 billion kilometers from the sun outer planets: Jupiter, S.aturn with his rings, Uranus and all the way outside Neptun. They are made of gas (mostly hydrogen and helium) and are much larger than the inner planets. Jupiter and Saturn are about ten times the size of the earth, that's why they are also called that Gas giants.
And finally, there are asteroids, comets and clouds of dust that also orbit the sun. The gravitational pull of the sun holds all these heavenly bodies together and forces them to fly in a circle like on a long line. Everything together is called that Solar system. The moons are one of them - but they are held in place by the gravitational pull of the planets.
But why does the sun even have planets? This has to do with how the sun came into being: a cloud of gas and dust contracted by its own gravity and became a star. But not all of the material in this cloud was "built into" the star - around one percent was left over. And when the sun began to shine, the radiation pushed the remaining matter outwards again.
The light gases were pushed far outwards, the heavier dust and rocks remained close to the sun. The planets emerged from these clouds of dust and gas over time. Therefore there are the gas planets outside in the solar system, further inside the rock planets - including our earth - and in the very center the sun. It contains 99% of the mass of the solar system and holds everything together with its gravity.
What is the moon
It is the brightest celestial body in the night sky: the moon. It shines so brightly on full moon nights that some people find it difficult to sleep. It appears as big as the sun and the stars look like tiny points of light next to it.
But the impression is deceptive: in reality the moon (diameter: 3474 km) is only about a quarter the size of the earth (12742 km) - and the sun (1.39 million km) is even four hundred times larger. The moon only appears the same size to us because it is so close to us - the sun (distance to the earth about 150 million km) is also about four hundred times further away than the moon. (384,400 km, an airplane needs 18 days for this distance!)
The bright light is also deceptive: unlike the sun, the moon does not shine by itself, but is illuminated by the sun. Some of this light is then reflected back from the surface of the moon and hits the earth. Just because the moon is so close to us, enough light arrives on earth to light up the night - at least if the moon doesn't just seem to have disappeared without a trace ...
What is a planet
Perhaps one or the other has noticed a particularly bright star in the morning or evening sky: Venus. After the sun and the moon, it is the brightest object in the sky. Because it shines so brightly, it is also called the "morning star" or "evening star" - much to the annoyance of astronomers: Because Venus is not a star, but a planet!
The most important difference: a star shines by itself, a planet does not. Stars have a source of energy inside them, so they glow hot and emit light. A planet, on the other hand, is cold and does not glow by itself. We can only see it when it is illuminated by a star. Then the surface of the planet distributes the star's light in all directions.
Most planets belong to one star. Because planets do not arise alone, but together with a star. They then belong to this star and orbit it - such as Earth and Venus, which orbit the sun.
And why is Venus so easy to see, even though it only transmits the light of the sun? This is due to their thick cloud cover, which reflects sunlight particularly well. In addition, after the moon, Venus is the celestial body that comes closest to earth: just 40 million kilometers - that is a stone's throw compared to the distances in space. Because it comes so close to the earth and its clouds reflect a lot of light, we can easily see it in the sky.
Of course, Venus is not the only planet. Like the earth, it is one of the eight planets in our solar system. And the sun is not the only star with planets either. Since there are an unimaginable number of stars, the universe just has to be teeming with planets.
Why do planets have moons?
Earth has one, Mars has two, Jupiter and Saturn even over sixty each! Only two planets in the solar system have to do without moons: Mercury and Venus, all other planets have at least one moon. But why do most planets have moons? And what is a moon anyway?
For us, the moon is first and foremost the bright circle that stands in the sky at night. It looks small, but in reality it is a large rock ball 3475 km in diameter that circles the earth. And it is exactly the same with the other planets: They are also orbited by smaller or larger celestial bodies on regular orbits. Astronomers also call these celestial bodies “moons”.
To get to a moon, a planet usually has two options: Either the moon is created together with its planet, or the planet is created first and later captures a smaller celestial body.
These smaller celestial bodies are asteroids that fly ownerless through the solar system. When they get near a much larger planet, they are drawn to its gravity. This forces the asteroid into an orbit around the planet - the planet has got a moon. This “catching” of a moon works better, the heavier the planet is. This is why the large and heavy planets Jupiter and Saturn also have most of the moons in the solar system.
Other moons formed from debris left over when their planets formed: In the beginning, the solar system was nothing but a large disk of dust, gas, and ice. In the middle, the matter agglomerated particularly strongly - here the sun was created, surrounded by the remaining disk of dust, ice and gas. The same thing was repeated on a small scale in this disk: compact lumps formed again - the planets - and the remaining dust collected in a disk. And if there was enough matter in this disk, even smaller lumps formed there: moons. (Only when the gravitational pull of the planet was very strong were the lumps immediately torn apart. This was the case, for example, close to Saturn, which is still surrounded by rings of dust to this day.)
Both moons that emerged from the dust debris and the captured moons are much smaller than their planets.
The earth is the big exception: its moon is much larger than it should be compared to the earth. That is why it can neither have originated from leftover dust nor simply been captured. Instead, the earth owes its moon to a cosmic catastrophe that almost destroyed the planet:
Shortly after the earth was formed, it collided with a celestial body about half the size of itself. The force of this impact cannot be imagined: The explosion was so strong that most of the young earth melted again - and the other celestial body as well. Part of the molten mass was thrown away and gathered in an orbit to form a second ball. Over time, these two spheres cooled and solidified again. Today the larger sphere orbits the sun as the earth - and the smaller one orbits the earth as the moon.
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