How Long Would It Take To Get To Saturn (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 8 Earth Years

The planet Saturn is the second-largest planet among all the planets of the solar system and the planet is also the sixth distant planet from the Sun. The planet Saturn is most famous for its prominent ring feature which is composed of ice particles, rock debris, and dust. The planet Saturn has a minimum of 82 moons, among which 53 are officially named. Saturn’s largest moon and also the second-largest in the Solar System is understood and named Titan.

How Long Would It Take To Get To Saturn?

Distance Between Earth And SaturnTime
Aphelion point (longest distance between the Earth and Saturn)8 years to 12 years
Perihelion point (the shortest distance between the Earth and Saturn)6 years to 8 years

The time it would take to get to Saturn depends on many different factors. These factors could be whether the spacecraft is propelled directly towards Saturn or if the spacecraft is sent towards Saturn indirectly, which means, the spacecraft is sent towards other celestial bodies, and using their gravity pull, the spacecraft is set to slingshot itself to Saturn. Other factors could be the type of engine propelling the spacecraft if the spacecraft is simply going to fly by directly to Saturn, or along the orbit of Saturn.

There are particular times when Saturn is the closest to Earth, and some particular times when this planet is at the farthest distance from Earth.

The farthest point is the time when both the planets lie on the opposite sides of the sun from one another. The distance at this point between the two planets, that is, earth and Saturn are about 1.7 billion kilometers, or simply saying, nearly 11 times the distance from Earth to Sun. This point when the distance is longest between the two points is known as the ‘Aphelion’ point. If we try to reach Saturn during this point of time, then it would take around 8 to 12 years to reach Saturn.

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On the other hand, the time when Saturn is the closest to Earth is called the ‘Perihelion’ period. During this point in time, the distance between Earth and Saturn is about 746 million miles, or also known as 1.2 billion kilometers. It can also be said that the distance between earth and Saturn at this point is about 8 times the distance between Earth and the sun. If we try to reach Saturn during this point in time, then it would take nearly 6 to 8 years.

Why Does It Take That Long To Get To Saturn?

The time it takes to get to Saturn is calculated not only based on mathematical calculations but also based on statistics that are recorded by astronomical scientists and space engineers so far. Therefore, if one wants to know the reason why it takes that long to get to Saturn, it is important to know the statistics.

Pioneer 11 was a spacecraft that took the first look at Saturn. It was launched in April 1973, and the spacecraft passed Saturn after about six years, that was in September 1979.

The Voyager was another spacecraft that went on to explore the outer planets by taking the advantage of an optimal lineup of planets and their gravitational forces. The Voyager spacecraft were launched in September 1977. Different Voyager spacecraft used different types of paths. Voyager 1 used the gravitational assist from Jupiter to reach next to Saturn in November 1980. Voyager 1 took only three years to reach Saturn after it left Earth.

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The Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched a month earlier than its twin, Voyager 1. However, to everyone’s surprise, the second spacecraft took a longer duration as compared to the first voyager spacecraft. The reason behind that was that the Voyager 2 spacecraft took a more circular route. It arrived in August 1981 and took about four complete years to reach Saturn.

Conclusion

Knowing statistically and thinking practically, humans have physically not even reached to nearer planets as well, so practically thinking of getting to Saturn is not possible in coming decades or even centuries. But there have been many types of research going on by scientists and engineers about how can humans reach Saturn and how long will it take humans to reach there.

References

  1. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1126-6708/2007/05/050/meta
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF00350197.pdf
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