If Saturn had a busy civilization like Earth, life would have definitely been extremely difficult for people living in the planet. This is because recently scientists have discovered that the actual length of Saturn’s days is slightly shorter than the number mentioned in most books.
To be more precise, the planet’s days are six minutes shorter than what we have read in the majority of the books to date. This discovery has also changed the way scientists think the planet’s winds blow.
Ravit Helled of Israel’s Tel Aviv University said that scientists since a long time have believed that they are aware of the exact rotation period of Saturn. She added that having this information was not surprising as spin is a very basic planetary feature.
For those who don’t know: during the 1980s, the Voyager spaceship flew across Saturn and concluded that each day in the planet has a total of 10 hours and 39 minutes. The conclusion was made based on the periodic changes the spacecraft detected in the radio waves of the planet.
However, around two decades later, in 2004, another spacecraft known as the Cassini found that Saturn’s days are 10 hours 47 minutes long. Cassini used the same technique for measuring the length of a day in the planet as the Voyager spaceship.
However, a recent study used another method for measuring the length of a Saturn day and found that each day in the planet has a total of 10 hours 32 minutes and 45 seconds. This makes the length of a Saturn day 6 minutes shorter than what suggested by the Voyager spacecraft.
The authors of this new study believe that the technique discovered by them is the most accurate one among all the techniques used so far.
One of the biggest problems astronomers face when trying to measure the length of a day in Saturn is that the ringed planet refuses to reveal such information easily. This separates Saturn from Jupiter, another gas giant of our solar system. There’s no confusion regarding the length of the biggest planet; each day is 9 hours 55 minutes long.
Thus, to confirm their recent findings, scientists are now planning to use the new technique for measuring the length of a Jupiter day.