Saturn and Earth are both fascinating planets in our solar system, but they are also very different. While Earth is the third planet from the sun and is known for its diverse and abundant life, Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and is known for its beautiful ring system. As they are such different distances from the sun, there are some profound differences between them. After all, no planet is the same. So, what exactly divides Earth and Saturn? Do they have any similarities? And if so, what are they? Well, today, we will compare and contrast these two planets and delve into their unique features, which have captured the fascination of scientists and the general public alike.
So, what are the main differences between Saturn vs. Earth? The main differences between Saturn and Earth are size, chemical composition, and temperature, although there are many other differences they share as well. Saturn is much bigger than Earth, and it’s also a gas giant, whereas Earth is a terrestrial planet. Earth is also a lot warmer on its surface; however, Saturn is the warmer of the two when it comes to core temperature.
Let’s now continue to explore the differences, and then similarities, in much greater detail.
What Are The Differences Between Saturn And Earth?
Saturn and Earth are starkly different from one another when it comes to size, orbit, chemical composition, density, temperature, number of moons, number of rings, axle tilt, aesthetics, and their abilities to host human life.
As you might have guessed, Saturn and Earth share a lot of various differences. This is inevitable when you consider that Earth is arguably the most unique planet in our solar system for various reasons, especially the fact that it’s the only place humans can inhabit.
So, let’s explore each of these key differences between Saturn and Earth.
Size and Mass
There’s no fine margin when determining which is the bigger planet. But the same is true when you compare any two planets in our solar system.
When it comes to Saturn Vs. Earth, Saturn is the bigger by far. But then again, Saturn is only smaller than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
Saturn has a diameter of 116,460km compared to Earth’s diameter of a mere 12,742km. So, there’s a stark difference, as you can see.
Saturn has a surface area of 42.7 billion square kilometers, whereas Earth has a surface area of 510.1 million square kilometers.
And it’s a clean sweep for Saturn, as you can probably guess, because it’s much bigger, it’s also much heavier.
Saturn has a mass of 5.6846 x 10^26 kilograms compared to Earth’s 5.9736 x 10^24 kilograms.
The key figure is the end figure.
Although Earth’s first figure of 5.9736 is bigger than Saturn’s of 5.6846, the fact that Saturn’s second figure is 10^26 kilograms compared to Earth’s 10^24 kilograms is significant.
Orbit of the Sun
As was mentioned in the introduction, Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, whereas Earth is the third planet from the sun.
Distance from the sun plays a significant factor when it comes to orbit.
As Earth is much closer to the sun, it takes much less time for it to orbit it. Earth takes 365 days to orbit the sun.
Sound like a familiar figure? That’s because it is. 365 days is how many days there are in a year.
At the end of those 365 days, a new calendar year begins because Earth has completed one orbit of the sun. Our ancestors sure were smart when they mapped out the calendar.
Saturn is much further away from the sun. So, consequently, it takes the planet a humongous 29.4 Earth years to orbit the sun. Yes, that’s just one orbit of the sun.
So there is a clear difference in the amount of time these two planets take to orbit the sun.
There are many different types of planets. Two of the most common planet types are gas giants (gas planets) and terrestrial planets (telluric planets or rocky planets).
This is where Saturn and Earth differ again.
Saturn is a gas giant, but Earth is a terrestrial planet. What do these different titles mean?
Well, a gas giant is exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a planet composed of gasses, primarily hydrogen and helium. This is the category of planet that Saturn fits into. It’s also joined by Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune.
Earth is a terrestrial planet which is a type of planet that is composed primarily of silicate rocks or metals. Earth is joined in the terrestrial planet category by Mercury, Venus, and Mars!
Although Saturn is a much bigger planet when it comes to size and mass, Earth is actually a lot dense.
Saturn’s density is 0.687 g/cm³ whilst Earth has a density of 5.51 g/cm³.
On the one hand, Earth is hotter than Saturn. But on the other hand, the opposite is true. And Saturn is hotter than Earth.
Why is this so? Because there are two main temperatures recorded when studying a planet.
Earth is hotter than Saturn when it comes to surface temperature. Earth’s surface temperature is ~57 degrees Fahrenheit (13.9 degrees Celsius), whereas Saturn’s surface temperature is approximately -216.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-138 degrees Celsius).
Why is this the case? The most obvious explanation would be the factor of distance from the sun.
Earth is relatively close to the sun, so its surface is kept warm by the rays of sunshine emitted from the giant ball of gas and fire. In contrast, Saturn is much further away from the sun, located in a part of the solar system where it’s much colder.
Earth needs to have a surface temperature around this ballpark figure so that life can survive on it. No human life is surviving on Saturn with that incredibly low surface layer temperature unless they’re wearing the right equipment.
But when it comes to core temperature, it’s a whole different ball game. This is down to the fact that Saturn is a gas giant, so it produces more of its own heat from its core than Earth.
Saturn has a core temperature of approximately 21,092 degrees Fahrenheit (11,700 degrees Celsius), whereas Earth has a core temperature of approximately 10,932 degrees Fahrenheit (6,000 degrees Celsius).
Number of Moons
Quite simple, this one. While both planets have moons, Saturn has a lot more.
Saturn has 82 moons orbiting it. Whereas Earth is just the one, and don’t we love it?
And again, another simple one. Saturn has 7 rings, which mainly consist of asteroids, comets, and even shattered moons.
Earth has no rings at all!
Axel Tilt and Rotation
If you didn’t know already, not all planets tilt on the same axle. This is the case when comparing Saturn and Earth.
Earth has an axial tilt of 23.5 degrees, whilst Saturn’s is about 27 degrees.
These figures are relatively similar when you analyze the axial titles of other planets in the solar system.
However, the difference still plays a part in influencing another difference. That is how long it takes for these planets to rotate around their respective axis.
Earth takes 24 hours to complete one rotation of its axis. Another familiar figure, because that’s how many hours are in a day, approximately.
Saturn takes just 10 hours and 34 minutes to complete one rotation of its own.
Many of the different factors discussed above cause these planets to look very different.
Saturn appears with a pale yellow color.
Earth, on the other hand, is green and blue. Of course, we all know what the green and blue are. Green is land, and, of course, the blue seen from outer space is the ocean.
One Can Host Human Life, The Other Can’t
If you haven’t realized already, you can live and breathe on Earth.
You cannot, however, do that on Saturn.
What Are The Similarities Between Saturn And Earth?
Saturn and Earth share orbit patterns, shape, they both have moons, they both have hotter cores than surfaces, they both have a gravitational pull and relationship with the rest of the universe, and they’re part of the same solar system.
Despite all those major differences between Saturn and Earth, they do share some similarities. Let’s talk through them now.
As we learned in the previous chapter, it takes Saturn much more time to orbit the sun than it does Earth. Like, so, so, so much more. By the time Saturn has orbited the sun just once, Earth will have nearly orbited it 30 times in that same time.
However, despite these vast differences in orbit time, the pattern that these planets’ orbit the sun remains the same.
Because both Earth and Saturn have circular orbits of the sun.
Both Have a Hotter Central Core
Saturn has a hotter core than Earth’. Alternatively, Earth has a hotter surface area than Saturn.
But what both these planets share when it comes to temperature is the fact that their core temperatures are much warmer than their surface areas.
You’ll find that when comparing most planets in our solar system, this is the case.
Both are Spherical in Shape
Although there are vast differences between the two when it comes to size, mass, and density, both Saturn and Earth are spherical in shape.
Both Have Moons
Sure, Saturn definitely has more moons than Earth. Way more, in fact. But guess what? Some planets don’t have any moons at all.
So when you’re splitting planets into categories of those who don’t have moons and those who do, Saturn and Earth fall in together!
Both planets have a gravitational pull force that interacts with the rest of the universe.
For Saturn, its gravitational pull ensures that its 82 moons and 7 rings continue to orbit it within close proximity. For Earth, its gravitational pull ensures that its sole moon continues to orbit it whilst still close enough for us to enjoy its view at night.
Both Are Part of the Same Solar System
I know we’re clutching at straws here, but the truth is that there’s simply much more that separates Saturn and Earth than there is that unites them.
Even though it’s the most simple of similarities, the fact that Saturn and Earth share the same solar system is the most special.
As Saturn is in the same solar system as Earth, we are able to study it so thoroughly, which we wouldn’t be able to do if it was further away.
So being part of the same solar system family as Saturn is for sure a claim to fame that Earth should enjoy.
So there you have it. The most fundamental differences and similarities between Saturn and Earth compared.
Remember, difference is good. Who would want our solar system to be filled with a load of other Earths?
Well, each to their own. But for me, I love the fact that our solar system is so diverse!
Is Saturn warmer than Earth?
Saturn is not warmer than Earth when it comes to surface temperature. Saturn is considerably colder. However, Saturn does have a warmer core temperature.
Other planetary comparisons you may want to see:
- Saturn vs Uranus [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Venus [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Mars [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Neptune [How Do The Planets Differ]
- Saturn vs Jupiter [How Do The Planets Differ?]
Hey, my name is Jeremy. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.