A Tour of the Planets

Uncharted Space: Saturn

Saturn
Saturn is reckoned the most beautiful planet in the solar system, as it posesses broad rings of dust and ice that run around the planet in perfect circles. All gas giants actually posess rings, but Saturns' are truly remarkable in their size and thickness. Objects close to a large world like Saturn will undergo strong tidal forces and break apart into fragments, forming rings.

Saturn is 5/6 the diameter of Jupiter, but is much less dense and its weather is not nearly as violent. Likewise, though Saturn posesses a strong magnetic field and emits heat, neither of these effects are nearly as strong as that of Jupiter. Saturn's atmosphere is more than 500 miles deep and has a number of layers of different composition, but two of these layers are composed of breathable air and hypothetically anything that could remain aloft (perhaps through buoyancy) could survive in that region. At the equator Saturn's surface gravity is only 95% that of Earths, though because Saturn Bulges at the Equator (thanks to its rapid spin) the gravity at the poles is much more - 33% more than Earth's.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
75,000 miles
89.5 Earths
1.07 Earths
10 hrs., 40 mins.
29.46 years
900 million miles
 
Saturn has a wide variety of moons. Like Jupiter, Saturn's gravity is strong enough that each of it's moons except for Phoebe and Hyperion (and possibly some of the outer irregular moons) has a synchronous orbit; i.e., one side of each moon always faces Jupiter, just as Earth's moon faces Earth. As a result, the side that faces Saturn tends to be slightly warmer than the side that faces away.

Saturn's system of moons includes a number of perplexing features. The first four moons work as a part of the system of rings; Pan lies within the Encke division, while Atlas lies just outside the A ring. Prometheus and Pandora lie on either side of the F ring and seem to keep it constrained to a tight band.

Epimetheus and Janus are co-orbital with one another; their orbits differ by less than 50 miles, which is less than the radius of either body. When they approach one another their gravitational forces tug on one another and they exchange some momentum, and swap orbits. This swap occurs roughly once every four years.

Telesto, Calypso, and Helene are all "Trojan moons," meaning that they orbit Saturn in the trojan points of other moons. Telesto and Calypso orbit in the leading and trailing trojan points (respectively) of the moon Tethys, while Helene orbits in the leading trojan point of the moon Dione.

Phoebe orbits Saturn in the opposite direction as all the other moons, and has a very dark surface, as dark as lampblack. It may likely be a captured asteroid. It orbits four times further away from Saturn than it's nearest neighbour, Iapteus.

None of these moons, however, have been discovered by earthbound astronomers as of 1889. All the known moons at that time are the larger ones which each have an article below. The below table lists all the moons; the ones known to Earth astronomers in 1889 each have a hyperlink leading to an explanatory article.

Moons indicated with an asterisk (*) have been discovered recently (year 2000 or later). All these moons have irregular orbits, and the outermost five moons as well as Skadi all orbit in a retrograde fashion, like Phoebe. All these orbits are inclined sharply to Saturn's ecliptic, meaning they are probably captured asteroids.

More technical information about Saturn's sattelites can be found at Scott Sheppard of the University of Hawaii's Saturn satellite page: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~sheppard/satellites/satsatdata.html

Table of Saturn's Moons

Name Diameter Orbital Distance Period of Revolution
Pan
12.5 miles
84,000 miles
0.58 days
Atlas
17.5 miles
86,000 miles
0.60 days
Prometheus
54 miles
87,000 miles
0.61 days
Pandora
54 miles
89,000 miles
0.63 days
Epimetheus
72 miles
94,000 miles
0.69 days
Janus
110 miles
94,000 miles
0.69 days
Mimas
245 miles
116,000 miles
0.94 days
Methone*
2 miles
121,000 miles
1.01 days
Pallene*
2.5 miles
132,000 miles
1.14 days
Enceladus
322 miles
149,000 miles
1.37 days
Telesto
18 miles
184,000 miles
1.89 days
Tethys
662 miles
184,000 miles
1.89 days
Calypso
17 miles
184,000 miles
1.89 days
Dione
700 miles
236,000 miles
2.74 days
Helene
20 miles
236,000 miles
2.74 days
Polydeuces*
2.5 miles
236,000 miles
2.74 days
Rhea
956 miles
329,000 miles
4.52 days
Titan
3220 miles
764,000 miles
15.96 days
Hyperion
180 miles
926,000 miles
21.28 days
Iapteus
910 miles
2,226,000 miles
79.33 days
Kiviuq*
10 miles
7,103,000 miles
449 days
Ijiraq*
7.5 miles
7,150,000 miles
451 days
Phoebe
136 miles
8,095,000 miles
548 days
Paaliaq*
14 miles
9,499,000 miles
687 days
Skathi*
5 miles
9,779,000 miles
728 days
Albiorix*
20 miles
10,252,500 miles
783 days
Erriapo*
6 miles
11,010,000 miles
871 days
Siarnaq*
25 miles
11,350,000 miles
893 days
Tarvos*
9 miles
11,404,000 miles
925 days
Mundilfari*
4.5 miles
11,693,000 miles
951 days
Narvi*
4.5 miles
11,699,000 miles
956 days
Suttung*
4.5 miles
12,164,000 miles
1016 days
Thrym*
4.5 miles
12,739,000 miles
1087 days
Ymir*
11 miles
14,435,000 miles
1312 days
 
Mimas
The Crater Planet
Mimas is a rocky world with virtually no atmosphere. It's surface resembles that of Earth's moon and is barren and lifeless. However, there is one remarkable feature on Mimas; a huge crater almost seven miles deep, with walls three and a half miles high, a central peak almost four miles high. The crater is over 80 miles across; almost a third of the diameter of the entire moon.
 
Though there is no atmosphere on the outer surface, the crater has allowed gases to pool inside it, creating a mini-environment that can support life. A colony exists here that was established by settlers from the lost planet of Vulcan, which was destroyed and formed the asteroid belt. The colony is ruled by the "Suzerain," who lives in a palace on the central mountain and hoards what remaining high technology still exists, since the inhabitants of Mimas have lost the ability to manufacture it. The rest of the crater is organized as a tightly controlled feudal state, and most of the inhabitants live in poverty and servitude.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
245 miles
0.00096 Earths
0.1 Earths
(0.25 Earths
within crater)
0.94 days
29.46 years
116,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Enceladus
World of Visions
Enceladus is a small mustard-coloured world with a thin atmosphere roughly equivalent to Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of one mile (like Denver, Colorado, for example). The air is breathable but will require some effort for people who are unaccustomed to high altitudes, and people breathing unassisted will find themselves short of breath after only minor exertion. People taking up residence will take about two weeks to acclimate to the rarefied air, after which they can function normally.
 
Enceladus' yellowish colouring is the result of it being covered by a mustard-coloured moss which adheres to virtually every surface. Only regions which have recently been disturbed by meteorite impacts or other violent encounters will show any bare rock at all. Most of the planet's moisture is locked up within this moss as well, and other plants, mostly reminiscent of fens, reeds, and flowers (some of which grow to 10 to 15 feet tall in the low gravity) grow out of the moss periodically.

The moss excretes a chemical which turns to vapour and floats in the atmosphere for long periods until breaking down. Larger amounts of this chemical will be released if the moss is disturbed in excavations or other disruptions. This chemical will gradually build up in the bloodstream of people breathing the atmosphere and will slowly begin to affect their minds, causing hallucinations. These hallucinations will not be noticable for a couple of weeks, and will begin very subtly, with people seeing motion in the corner of their eyes, hearing faint sounds, and feeling as if they are being watched. The chemical will act on the parts of the brain that deal with subconscious primal fears, and gradually the hallucinations will become more and more palpable and frightening. Typically subjects will become very paranoid within six weeks and will be completely mad in nine weeks. However, the sort of paranoia created by the chemical causes people to become desperately violent and desructive, and they will tend to attack friends, colleagues, and destroy survival equipment and vehicles as a method of protecting themselves from their imagined dangers.

There is the remnants of a base on Enceladus of unknown (possibly Vulcan) origin. It has been destroyed and has since been overgrown by moss, but there may be some evidence of it' presence; it will be clear that the people who built it were not native to Enceladus. The inhabitants of the base eventually all went mad and destroyed the base and each other, though it will not be clear at first what happened there, aside from the fact that the base was destroyed by violence.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
322 miles
0.0017 Earths
0.14 Earths
1.37 days
29.46 years
149,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Tethys
Planet of the Bat People
Tethys is a very dry world with an Earthlike atmosphere. Rain is virtually unknown and most of the planet's water is below the surface in artesian aquifers. Some plants exist which can subsist on very little moisture while others cluster around rare oases or have deep roots which can reach the water beneath the surface.
 
Tethys' primary form of life are a race of winged humanoids resembling bats. They are covered with a brownish fur and their upper arms form wings which have a wingspan of approximately ten feet. They are roughly five feet tall and their limbs are long and spindly. Their feet have prehensile toes and most of their work with tools is done with their feet, though their wings do have two portuding fingers at the hand which can be used to grasp and manipulate things with little weight. The thick atmosphere and low gravity of Tethys makes it possible for much larger flying creatures than on Earth.

The Bat People (who call themselves Volantors) are friendly and gregarious. They enjoy wit and humour and are fond of music, and make a variety of musical intruments, including a couple which can only be played while aloft. Such instruments are pipe-like and depend on wind rushing through them as the Volantor flies through the air. Volantors have a nomadic, clannish culture, but are rarely violent. They do raid each other periodically but such raids are for the purpose of theft and mischief rather than blood.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
662 miles
0.0062 Earths
0.3 Earths
1.89 days
29.46 years
184,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Dione
Planet of the Felines
Dione is a warm, wet world with a tropical climate and large tracks of jungle and savannah. The areas of plains are visible from space as lighter swaths through the darker vegetation, and it appears as if they were created by some biolent geological event. Dione has little free water on the surface but its atmosphere has plenty of water vapour; the water cycle of Dione depends primarily on transpiration from plant life, and the water returns to the suface as dew and rain.
 
Dione has a wide variety of animal life and many of the creatures there are similar to those than might be found in the tropics of Earth, or in the jungles of Venus. There does seem to be a larger variety of predators that would seem be ecologically necessary.

There is intelligent life on Dione, and they have evolved from predator stock and closely resemble a cross between humans and cats. They have fur covering their bodies, and their fingers and toes sport sharp retractable claws. They have pointed ears, whiskers, and sharp teeth. Nevertheless, they are otherwise humanoid in physique, and despite their claws thir hands are quite capable of using tools with skill. There are a variety of "races" of cat people, based largely on the coloration of fur.

The Cat People (who call themselves Fristles) have a society which divides things up into rigid gender roles, where the males act as warriors and engage in near constant skirmishing, hunting, and posturing, while the females handle most economic activity and raise food, make tools, and conduct trade. Essentially the Fristles have two separate societies that interact only rarely even while occupying the same space. Most Fristle societies enjoy an iron age level of technology.

Fristle society is divided amongst clans, and Fristle males chafe under the authority of others, so large states tend to be rare, and this is compounded by the difficulty of communication through jungle. Fristle males do have a warrior code, but treacherous combat tactics are permissible, and defeating an opponent through trickery brings just as much honour as defeating an opponent in open combat.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
700 miles
0.0078 Earths
0.5 Earths
2.74 days
29.46 years
236,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Rhea
Planet of Tyrants
Rhea is another dry world, though it is not quite as dry as Tethys. The landscape is relatively barren, but tends to range from prairie to semi-desert, with few actual deserts. What deserts do exist tend to be rocky. A variety of hardy vegetation exists on Rhea, as well as many types of animals, mostly grazers.
 
The main form of intelligent life on Rhea are the Jaagutoi (singular: Jaag), who are tall and menacing in appearance. They range from six and a half to seven feet in height, and have tusks pointing upwards from either side of their mouths. Their skin ranges from a reddish colour to an ashen gray; the Jaagutoi do not seem to attribute any relevance to a Jaag's skin colour. They also posess two thumbs on each hand, one on either side of the palm.

Jaagutoi are highly intelligent and long-lived (their typical lifespan is 400-500 Earth years), but they are solitary in nature and only gather in groups out of necessity. They are capable of understanding many technologies but will only use tools or weapons of their own manufacture, so their level of advancement may seem limited to outsiders. They can manufacture tools of metal and build stone towers to live in. They are territorial and gruff, disliking strangers.

Much of the mundane work for a Jaag is carried out by the Meeps, a semi-intelligent race of primates who have been domesticated by the Jaagutoi and can carry out simple tasks. They perform agriculture and animal husbandry for the Jaagutoi and have been trained to use simple tools. The Jaagutoi are cruel masters, and will kill or torture the Meeps as methods of training them (though they bear the Meeps no actual malice - they regard them as animals).

The Meeps themselves tend to range from five to five-and-a-half feet in height and have broad noses and thick eyebrow ridges. Some Meeps have escaped from the Jaagutoi tyrants and eke out a living in the north polar regions; these Meeps call themselves Tlanimos and seem to have developed a language and a stone age technology depending largely on the use of flint. They reject the technologies used by the Jaagutoi and live as hunter-gatherers. The Tlanimos consider themselves at war with the Jaagutoi and will confont the Jaagutoi in large numbers, using stone axes and flint-tipped arrows. Since they are social and work together as a team they tend to overcome the Jaagutoi they encounter but do not actively invade Jaagutoi territory as yet, though it is clear that they see the Jaagutoi as a threat to their survival, and they imagine that eventually they must destroy the Jaagutoi. The Jaagutoi tend to underestimate the Tlanimos and as yet do not understand the threat they posess.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
956 miles
0.015 Earths
0.6 Earths
4.52 days
29.46 years
329,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Titan
The Veiled World
Titan is the largest of Saturn's moons, and has a high local gravity and abundant atmosphere. Thick clouds obscure the surface of Titan from space, indicating that Titan has a thick atmosphere with plenty of moisture. This atmosphere is thick enough to trap plenty of heat and allows a warm climate. Titan also has a strong magnetic field that has some similar properties to that of Venus.
 
The environment on Titan is misty and swampy, with lots of surface water and many shallow seas on the surface. The life cycle of the swamps produces large amounts of methane gas which often ignites and creates a haunting "will-o-the-wisp" effect. Mountainous rocky areas exist as well, though these tend to be relatively barren compared with the large variety of swamp life.

Most animal life on Titan is comfortable on land or in water and is amphibious or reptilian in nature. Large mollusc-like life forms exist and tentacled creatures are very common, with some similarities to octopi or squid, but with many bizzarre variations. Mountainous life tends to be more mammalian in nature but also usually tends to be smaller.

The native intelligent species of Titan are the Kojaso. These are an eight-limbed race with a large head that greatly resemble the Martian Knoe Shoshu. They can use their limbs alternately as legs or arms but tend to use their forward four tentacles for arms and their rear four as legs. They do not use sound for communication and instead communicate with etheric signals they can send and recieve through the strong mangetic field of Titan. The Kojaso are capable of of building and using elaborate technologies, and in warfare they use heat rays and combat tripods, but they tend to prefer a primitive lifestyle, needing as few modern convieniences as possible to live. They consider the purpose of technology to be to strengthen them in war rather than to provide them with comfort or luxury. They have a tribal society and often war with one another.

In addition to the Kojaso, an offshoot of the Vulcan race lives on Titan. They call themselves the Skirieto and are virtually identical to the Vulcans of Luna aside from larger, darker eyes and small suction cups on their fingertips. The Skirieto believe that they are in a sort of purgatory or hell; having destroyed their homeworld they are now being punished for it. Some of the Skirieto live furtive primitive lives in the mountainous regions of the world, but for the most part are a slave race serving the dominant race of Titan. The Skirieto have lost virtually all of their Vulcanian knowledge and technology but preserve an active musical and artisitic tradition. Skirieto art forms have been preserved not because of the Skirieto's love of art but rather because the dominant race of Titan is entertained by the artistic talents of the Skirieto. The Skirieto tend to be somewhat stooped as they are not well adapted to the gravity of Titan. They tend to succumb to illness easily and their livespans are relatively short; usually between 30 and 50 Earth years.

The dominant race on Titan is not the Kojaso but rather a race that calls themselves the D'jillith, though the Skirieto call them Illithids. The D'jillith are a hybrid race between the Vulcans and the Kojaso. How this race came to exist is speculation but likely they were the result of experimentation on the part of ancient Vulcans to adapt themselves to their new environment. If so, this history has been repressed and the inhabitants of Titan by and large believe that the D'jillith have ruled for all time.

The D'jillith have humanoid bodies but their heads more closely resemble that of the Kojaso. They are hairless, have grey featureless eyes, and where the mouth and nose would be on a human they instead possess a cluster of small tentacles (typically these are about 6"-8" long) surrounding their small mouth. The D'jillith possess the Kojaso's ability to communicate via etheric waves rather than sound, though they do have voices and can speak if necessary. However, their ability to manipulate the ether is magnified to the point that they can create etheric effects using thought alone. Such effects include levitation, light, electricity, illusions, and mind control. With these powers they can easily dominate the Skirieto and have made them their servants. The Kojaso are more resistant to these powers, but since they can communicate with the D'jillith they have become allies of a sort. These powers are facilitated by the unusual magnetic field of Titan and would likely be less effective off-world.

The society of the D'jillith tends to be based largely on status and power. the D'jillith compete heavily with each other for control over one another and for social rank. While technically all D'jillith society is part of one nation with one overlord, personal networks of loyalty are usually considered more important than loyalty to the state or its ideals. This infighting and treachery often results in the death of many Skirieto slaves, but rarely involves the loss of D'jillith life, though assassinations do occur.

The D'jillith race is entirely male. They can reproduce by impregnating other females of other races such as the Kojaso and Skirieto - they could do this to humans as well. Any time a D'jillith impregnates another being, the egg is "converted" to the pattern of the D'jillith and a D'jillith child always results. While animals could be used for this purpose, if this is done the child will not be intelligent, so the D'jillith have a taboo on procreating with animals.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
3220 miles
0.165 Earths
0.8 Earths
15.95 days
29.46 years
764,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Hyperion
Hyperion is a small, rocky, airless planetoid that would at first seem to be of little interest. However, it has a strange effect on magnetic fields and seems to create etheric turbulence around it that is disproportionate to its size. This suggests that Hyperion has a very unusual composition and it's composition is interacting with the ether in unusual ways. Hyperion may represent a great opportunity to miners and prospectors.
 
Hyperion's rotation is chaotic, i.e. its axis of rotation wobbles so much that its orientation in space is completely unpredictable. Hyperion is unique in that it is very irregularly shaped, has a highly eccentric orbit, and is near another large moon (Titan). These factors combine to restrict the set of conditions under which stable rotation is possible. The 3:4 orbital resonance between Titan and Hyperion may also make chaotic rotation more likely.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
180 miles
0.00052 Earths
0.01 Earths
chaotic
21.28 days
(around Saturn)
926,000 miles
(from Saturn)

 

Iapteus
World of Conflict
Iapteus is remarkable in that it is covered by two regions, one which is very dark in colour, and the other which is very light. This produces the highest contrast of any body in the solar system. The two colours are caused by two competing biological systems which are not compatble with one another.
 
The darker of the two regions contains plants that use a system of photosynthesis and so are very dark so as to absorb as much light as possible. The lighter areas also have plant life, but these plants use a process of Etherosynthesis, drawing energy from Iapteus' movement through the ether rather than from light. Each region has an abundance of plant and animal life that shares a common biology with the rest of its biome. However, the two biomes are not compatible, and creatures from one biome cannot digest food from the other biome, and so forth.

Each region has an intelligent life form that dominates its ecosystem. Both regions have a bronze age level of technology. The dark region has an intelligent race that call themselves the Cardoz, and they have leathery charcoal-grey skin and horny ridges around their eye sockets, on the bridge of their nose, on their forehead, and their jawline. Other than this they are very much like humans, and their biome is compatible with that of Earthmen.

The Cardoz are a very aggressive and martial race and have an oppressive government that has strict control over its society. They tend to encourage cruelty and cold-heartedness as virtues but are also quite pragmatic. Their whole society is geared towards overthrowing their enemies, the Chulaine. However, the Cardoz are relatively suspicious of one another and civil wars are not uncommon. Their government structure is also cumbersome and inefficient, as a product of the paranoia of the Cardoz.

The Chulaine are the intelligent race of the light regions, and they have smooth, slick skin that is a pinkish ivory colour and almost rubbery in texture. They are hairless but have smooth crests sloping back from their foreheads and temples, and their ears are pointy. They also have pointy portrusions coming from their elbows and knees.

Chulaine society is quite fragmented compared with that of the Cardoz; they have over a dozen large kingdoms and as many as a hundred smaller principalities, duchies, baronies, etc. The Chulaine are expected to have martial skill and wage war on the Cardoz but their values are based arount their high ideals of nobility and this includes not only skill at war but also elegance, manners, and refinement. Etiquette is very important to the Chulaine and most status games are based around conversation and wit. The Chulaine states will usually cooperate with one another against the Cardoz and they are actually less likely to fight amongst each other than the Cardoz are.

The Chulaine are very hospitable and any humans visiting Iapteus are likely to find their company preferable to the Cardoz, but the Chulaine will be unable to provide the humans with food they can eat. Even the water will have contaminants in it that will cause humans problems.

Since the two biomes are incompatible, the Cardoz and Chulaine engage in a "total war" methodology, where a conquered territory will be thoroughly burned so that new life of the other biome can be planted there. This war has been going on as long as anyone can recall as the two regions are completely incompatible. It might be possible for trading relationships to occur between the two races, but the lower classes would likely be the ones willing to participate in such a venture and they are not likely to be permitted to do so.

Data:
Diameter: Surface
area:
Surface
Gravity:
Day: Year: Orbital
distance:
910 miles
0.013 Earths
0.5 Earths
79.33 days
29.46 years
2,226,000 miles
(from Saturn)