Saturn's Gasses and Shape
Name: Evan R.
Is it possible to take samples of Saturn's gases? And how
does it stay in the shape of a sphere?
It is possible to determine the major components of the gases present on
planets, including Saturn, from the sunlight that is reflected by the
planet's atmosphere. Of course a satellite orbiting the planet could sample
the atmosphere directly.
All planets and stars are approximately spheres because they are held
together by the force of gravity. The force due to gravity is the same in all
directions. When you work out the math of this behavior of gravity the
result predicts that the planet or star should be spherical. In reality
these bodies are a bit fatter at their equators than at their poles but this
is a small effect.
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Update: June 2012