The second largest planet in the system is a much more favorable habitat for transhumans than Jupiter. Saturn’s lower gravity and milder magnetosphere are a boon to gas mining operations, and for resource-hungry habs, the rings are a feast (literally, in the case of the new Hamilton cylinder type habitats). Hypercorps have a presence here, but any major expansion by the Planetary Consortium is kept in check by the anarchist stations of the rings and the technosocialist commonwealth of Titan.
Because Saturn is so distant from the sun, solar power generation is extremely inefficient. Growing photosynthetic plants with sunlight is impossible without large arrays of mirrors to focus the light. The abundance of water and volatiles makes the rings ideal for both scum barges and Hamilton cylinders. Gas mining is vital to the survival of almost every habitat and moon settlement in the Saturnian system, so habitats located further out from the planet that wish to be self-sufficient almost always maintain their own gas mining stations close to the planet. Security for these installations and the atmospheric skimmers and tankers they dispatch is tight, and it is never advisable to approach one unannounced.
Resources and Economics
Gas mining on Saturn supplies 30 percent of the system’s reactor mass. This role is expected to grow as helium-3 deposits in the Lunar regolith become less accessible. For ships traveling to the far reaches of the outer system, Saturn is an important alternative to using Jupiter for gravity assists. Less restrictive than Jovian regimes and richer in resources than the Trojans, Circumsaturnine habs and settlements are important innovators in habitat design and cultural organization. Since the discovery of the Pandora gates, the Titanian Commonwealth is the only entity actively pursuing interstellar exploration through conventional means.
The Rings and Classical Minor Moons
Saturn’s rings are made up of countless small icy objects, most of which range in size from dust specks to boulders 10 meters in diameter. The rings are designated by the letters “A” through “F” in the order in which they were discovered. They vary in thickness between 100 and 1,000 meters and in width from 20,000 kilometers down to just meters. In places there are gaps between rings. The widest, the Cassini division, is 4,000 kilometers across.
Saturn has over 60 satellites, a number that jumps into the hundreds if one includes the uncounted objects less than a kilometer across orbiting in the A ring. Most of Saturn’s moons are small, rocky, ice objects less than 100 kilometers in diameter. The smallest of the classical moons, Pan, is only 10 kilometers across. The first eight moons, from Enceladus inward, lie within the ring system. Atlas, at the edge of the A ring, and Prometheus and Pandora, which flank the thin F ring, are known as the shepherd moons. Several of the moonlets occupy Lagrange points relative to larger moons. Telesto and Calypso share the orbit of much larger Tethys, while Helene trails another large moon, Dione.