Saturn for Beginners
UWP: AF94645-8 Ag Ri
Type: Gas Giant
Size: Approximately 95 Earths by Mass
Gravity: 2.5 g
Surface Pressure: 140 kPascal (cloud layer)
Surface Composition: Liquid Metallic Hydrogen and Helium. Theoretical rocky core.
Atmosphere: Mostly Hydrogen (96%) and Helium (3%), with trace amounts of Ammonia, Ethane, Hydrogen Deuteride, Methane, and Water,.
C_loud Layer Temperature:_ Around −185° C/-301° F.
Day: 10.57 Hours
Year: 29.46 Earth-Standard Years
Satellites: 200 observed, 62 with secure orbits
The Greater Malefic
The brilliant rings of Saturn have fueled the fire of human imagination for hundreds of years. Long have the adventurous of heart gazed longingly into the night sky. Long have they wondered at what discoveries awaited the touch of man among the many moons and sparkling discs of ice that adorn, like crown jewels, the second largest gas giant of the solar system. It wasn’t until the arrival of Earth’s first colony ships, some seventy-two years ago, that humans would discover Saturn’s abundant wealth of natural resources. All the ingredients of life lay dormant – ripe for harvest by the most ingenious of minds. Human ingenuity has brought sustainable life and prosperity to Saturn, marking the ancient giant
as one of the most important planets of the outer system.
Saturn’s outer atmosphere is primarily composed of molecular hydrogen, helium, and other residual elements. In fact, the planet’s outer atmosphere is a primary source of valuable Helium-3 fuel for the planetary system’s nuclear fusion generators. Though the actual surface appearance of the atmosphere seems dull, wind speeds stirred up by atmospheric storms can range as high as 1800 kph/1118 mph. The planet’s interior is theoretically comprised of a small core made of rock and ice encased in a thick layer of metallic hydrogen. The magnetic field generated by Saturn can be measured in strength midway between that of Earth and the significantly powerful fields of Jupiter.
One of Saturn’s oddest features is that its equatorial bulge compares to its flattened poles by a sizable difference of 10%. This is caused by a combination of the planet’s swift rotation, its flowing condition, and its low density. Though Saturn is only 20% smaller than Jupiter, its lower density would only equate to 95 Earth masses compared to Jupiter’s 318. In fact, the overall density of Saturn’s outer atmosphere is less than water.
Saturn’s space is heavily occupied by numerous moons that differ greatly in both size and composition. 62 moons, ranging from tiny Thrymr to gigantic Titan, roam the many diverse paths of Saturn’s orbit. Only 13 of these moons however possess a diameter of greater than 50 km/31 miles.
Of course Saturn’s most prominent feature is the startlingly beautiful array of concentric rings. One of the most breathtaking views in the solar system is to watch the Sun rise over Saturn’s horizon and cast its brilliant radiance across the diamond-like surface of the rings – this has given rise to Saturn’s popular cruise-line industry. The rings themselves are composed mostly of ice particles, small traces of rocky debris, and dust. The outermost edge of Saturn’s rings extends from the planet’s equator at approximately 120 thousand kilometers. However, the average thickness of a ring is only about 20 meters, making for a startling display for any ship crossing its plane. Saturn’s rings are unique in size, composition, and presentation and are therefore protected under Saturnine law.
The Hades Gas Mines
Two large mining platforms, called Hades and Hades II, float in the outer atmosphere to harvest valuable gasses for processing and shipment via large container vessels. Though both mining platforms float freely around the planet’s atmosphere, the possibility of a catastrophic storm raged with Saturn’s high-speed winds is a very real threat. Thus, both Hades and Hades II have been equipped with the latest in meteorological forecasting equipment and a series of thrusters that allow the platforms to climb to the outermost edge of the atmosphere.
Dione is an icy moon whose colonization is fairly new. This 1120 km/696 mile moon holds the potential to join the ice-harvesting game among the wispy lines and crags of its surface. Nova Lyon, with a population of over 12,000 people, has evolved into the cultural and commercial hub of Dione. New settlers flock here each year with the hope of making their dreams come true with new opportunities for business and wealth.
Check any Saturnine tourist advertisement and you will find mention of the famous Geysers of Enceladus, located at the moon’s south pole. Tourists are drawn regularly to these gigantic plumes of spacebound ice crystals. The beautiful snow white mosaic of Saturn’s sixth largest moon reflects almost 100% of the sunlight, more than any other moon in the
Enceladus’ largest city, Oceanus, has a population of 550,000 citizens that focus largely on the tourist industry. Oceanus is also the center of extensive scientific research efforts into the moon’s surprisingly complex ecosystem. The reason that Enceladus’ geysers exist in the first place is due to internal heat and warming tidal activity. Widespread geological activity has created a vast subsurface ocean populated with life, from the smallest of microorganisms to actual marine animals. The fact of a self-sustaining marine ecosystem outside Earth’s environment has left scientists with an amazing opportunity for study.
Unfortunately the Enceladus ecosystem has also given rise to a growing conflict between those who wish to study the moon’s marine environment and those who wish to exploit it. Thus far, fishing has not been allowed, though certain special interest groups are aimed at changing that. Some wonder if a violent conflict may one day erupt.
Enceladus is also home to an important watermining colony near the North Pole called New Halifax. Its population of 30,000 possesses a far more conservative political view than her sister city.
Hyperion is probably the strangest moon in the Saturn system. Its odd shape, abundant impact craters, and chaotic rotation give the moon a kind of sponge-like look. If it weren’t for the fact that Hyperion was the only known source of Therminium in the Solar System, colonists would have no reason to settle there. Nevertheless, Hyperion Station, with its 17,000 residents, was established due to the discovery of Therminium. This extremely rare element is the most thermally stable substance known to modern science – making it the best and most efficient choice for insulation material. Modern colonial structures make extensive use of Hyperion’s bounty.
Iapetus is 1440 km/895 miles in diameter. Its predominant feature is a 10 km/6 mile high mountainous ridge that separates the walnut-like moon into two unique halves. There’s a striking difference between its light and dark sides. The leading edge is composed entirely of darkened matter and the trailing edge reflects brilliant white – giving a kind of yin-yang look.
Many theories have been postulated to explain this phenomenon, though none have been proven for certain. The doubtful stability and geological impact of the moon’s surface meant that Iapetus was overlooked for initial colonization until thirty-two years ago. A small religious group petitioned the Republic of Saturn to build a colony there. The petition was granted and the colony was established on the dark side of the moon. Contact lasted for about a year, after which all communication was suddenly and inexplicably lost. Search and rescue teams reported back that the entire colony, buildings and all, had disappeared without a trace. No one has stepped foot on the dark side of Iapetus since Fort Saragossa was established some eleven years ago on the light side of Iapetus as a strategic defense
location for the rest of the Saturn system. The exact number and complement of troops stationed there is classified and the entire moon is considered restricted to all but authorized personnel.
Mimas is the innermost of Saturn’s major moons. This 390 km/242 mile moon is so small that it could fit between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Its surface is severely pocked with impact craters, the largest of which is the 130 km/81 mile Hershel Crater. This crater has also become significant for other reasons The orbital path of Mimas through Saturn’s rings and its close proximity to Saturn made Mimas an attractive place to locate a science research station.
Cassini University, with backing from the Saturnine Government, set up a scientific research colony called Mimas Station inside the Herschel Crater. Results of scientific study had been fruitful for fourteen years, but that changed three years ago.
Scanners could barely track a strange cloud-like object that emerged from Saturn’s atmosphere. It moved as if guided, to envelop the entire moon. All communications with Mimas were suddenly lost. Rescue missions were attempted, but none returned.
The Saturnine navy has since set up a strict security blockade around this moon.
It was decided early during Saturn’s colonization that Titan’s atmosphere would not be put at risk due to the residual pollutants of industry. Thus it was determined that major construction and fabrication should be located on another moon. Rhea was chosen.
Today the 1500 km/932 mile moon is the home of ship-building, industrial manufacturing, and the modular construction of arcology and environmental dome structures. Rhea’s primary colony is the city of New Glasgow, whose population stands at about 335,000 residents. Fort Alexander is also located here, providing a strong military presence to protect the Republic of Saturn’s vital construction industry
Tethys, the third largest of Saturn’s inner moons, has a 1050 km/652 mile diameter. This crater-decorated ice moon serves one single purpose – to provide fresh water. Tethys is made up almost completely of water ice. A large 400 km/248 mile impact crater known as Odysseus is featured on the leading edge of the moon. From here, the Odysseus water-mining colony, with its 36,000 residents, works to support the miners who venture out each day into the high walls of the Ithaca Chasm. These miners carve out large chunks of ice for daily shipment back to Titan. The wholesale price of fresh water on the interplanetary market fetches a steady price and this natural bounty has certainly contributed nicely to Saturn’s growing wealth.
Titan is by far Saturn’s largest moon and the second largest moon in the Solar System. Its 5150 km/3200 mile diameter is about as wide as the old United States. Titan is particularly striking however in that it’s possessed of a thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere with a higher density than that of Earth. The experience of roaming freely inside Titan’s atmospheric pressure is much like moving through the bottom of a deep swimming pool. The moon’s average surface temperature is –178° C/-289° F.
Titan’s rich supply of nitrogen, hydrogen, hydrocarbons, and oxygen mined from frozen water deposits has allowed colonists to piece together the essential needs to sustain life. The ability to tap into Titan’s natural resources to produce an abundance of air, soil nutrients, and other essentials have given rise to an extensive and successful agricultural industry.
Massive hydroponics domes heated and powered by fusion generators yield enormous volumes of produce each year for consumption and export. Livestock originally imported from Earth supply dairy products, eggs, and reusable fertilizer to maintain the whole production cycle. One can say that Titan has become the virtual bread-basket of the outer system.
Titan is the center of Saturnine culture, prosperity, and government rule. Several domed townships and communities exist here, but the largest centers of population reside within its three major cities. Chronos, with a population of just over 830,000, is clearly the largest of these cities and serves as the trade center of Titan. Products move on and off world, with goods and people shuttled back and forth regularly between Chronos and the orbital Chronos Station. From there, they find their way to much larger interplanetary spaceships normally restricted from entering Titan’s atmosphere.
Cassini is the next largest city on Titan, with a population of approximately 560,000. Cassini’s municipal planners clearly paid attention to the concepts of beauty and symmetry in the city’s design, reflecting its purpose to serve as the Saturnine national capital and seat of government. Cassini is also the home of the famous Cassini University, whose schools of Planetology and Organic Chemistry are unmatched.
The third largest of Titan’s cities is Crius, whose population hovers just shy of 460,000. Known as the Palm Springs of Saturn, Crius caters to the wealthy by featuring opulent estate homes, the finest in dining and entertainment, spa resorts that gratify elite clientele, and an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Titan’s natural surroundings. Since Titan is the only planetary object besides Earth to feature surface lakes and rivers, tourists flock to Crius to visit the beautiful shores of Kraken Mare and float upon the low-gravity atmosphere of Titan’s orange sky in airtight flight suits.
LIFE ON SATURN
The Republic of Saturn is a sovereign nation. Independence was declared only forty-nine years ago, when the various moon colonies voted to band together. Recognizing Saturn’s strategic significance to other planets of the outer system, the Unified World Council agreed to recognize Saturn’s independence under the condition that the planet would always remain a neutral regime – a policy that the Saturnine government strictly enforces. Saturn, to this day, protects its sovereignty with system defense satellites, military installations, and a respectable navy.
Living in the Saturnine system is living with all manner of opportunities for wealth and prosperity if you are willing to follow the rules. However, there are those other governments and colonies that resent Saturn’s independence, so Saturnians can find themselves the subject of bigotry in places. Ancient astrologers once referred to Saturn as the Greater Malefic. They saw this world as an extremely powerful planet that often taught harsh lessons through the building up and tearing down of individuals – a belief that often brought dread to seekers of signs. Saturn’s ancient astrological reputation certainly holds true for any individual unwilling to respect the order of her planetary system. Humans have learned the hard way that attempts to conquer Saturn’s resources and bend her to one’s will only leads to disaster and death. The balance of life is fragile among the moons of Saturn and the Saturnine realize that their only means of survival is to live in consort with their home world, not in command of it. Saturn has proven to be a great benefactor for those who are willing to live a disciplined lifestyle that takes nothing for granted. Yet for those who resort to risky short cuts, Saturn’s reputation as the Greater Malefic eventually reveals itself with devastating results.