Why was the wormhole placed near Saturn in Interstellar?

If 'they' (advanced future humans) placed the wormhole from the future, why didn't they place it near Earth or at-least near the planet Mars?

They could have thought of saving fuel energy from Earth for a space-ship to travel this much farther. They (the people in earth from present) are in search of survival, they should have placed it somewhere near Earth for easier access. Right?

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    They could have even placed the wormhole ON earth, and put the other end on a habitable planet. (That's what I would have done if I were them.) Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 22:25
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    @BrettFromLA Ah, you mean to provide a convenient passage for the blight and the gradually more toxic atmosphere of earth? ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 13:19
  • @NapoleonWilson Good point, sir! XD Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 19:23

5 Answers 5


I'll try to make a first little attempt at parts of an out-of-universe answer why the writers might have chosen Saturn, even if it might be a bit far-fetched or speculative.

Aesthetically as well as regarding many small references the movie is largely indebted to Stanley Kubrick's seminal work 2001: A Space Odyssey (well, which movie of this kind was not influenced by that, but there are some rather obvious references), where signs of extraterrestrial life emerge from near Jupiter. But in fact in the original novel by Arthur C. Clarke it was indeed Saturn (or one of its moons) and this was only changed to Jupiter in the movie because credible images of Saturn were simply not producible at that time. So this might very well be a reference to 2001, albeit a slightly distorted one. And in fact there seem to be many precedents of Jupiter and Saturn serving as gateways to new experiences in science-fiction works, though it's unclear if that all goes back just to 2001 or to some earlier precedent, or maybe a more general affinity of human culture to those planets (or if all the other planets are equally represented). But I guess being such major players in our solar system and way farther away than Mars (which is largely demystified nowadays, the times of Mars invasions are over) makes them a bit more predestined to serve as such gateways.

Then there are other small hints that Saturn was a fitting choice, even if they're way more far-fetched. First of all Saturn is the Roman god of agriculture, which could on the one hand represent the largely unprogressing society of farmers humanity has accomodated itself to. When then factoring in the meaning of the Saturn Rockets as the facilitators of the Apollo missions and thus a signpost of human space exploration, it could on the other hand represent the pioneering attitude with which Cooper, the compulsory farmer and former space explorer, grasps for new directions in space (and through him ultimately humanity). But I guess culture is littered with other Saturn references and one might find fitting analogies of varying degrees.

In addition to this, Saturn might as well have served as a visual counterpart to Gargantua. Showing Saturn with its commonly known and characteristic rings could have served as a visual clue for the audience to understand that it is the black hole's accretion disc, a rougly similar ring of stuff (albeit faster and hotter), that gives this black hole its at first rather unexpected appearance. Gargantua is basically the "weirder" mirror image of Saturn.

Those are really just some first thoughts and this whole matter deserves way more investigation. I also admit that I don't currently have an actual in-universe answer for "them" to place the wormhole at Saturn instead of a nearer location. But it seems irrelevant anyway, given that any other planet might not carry the same aesthetic significance for the story as Saturn does and that placing it directly in earth's atmosphere and the atmosphere of Edmunds' planet (as suggested in a comment) would result in an entirely different story lacking any kind of interstellar travel, time dilation and time-defying communication (apart from other possible dangers a wormhole right in the atmosphere might pose). But maybe the safety argument still applies to a larger scale. After all this thing has sat there for 48 years already and it is hard to anticipate what stuff may come through it or in which way it might have some extraordinary gravitational influence, so better keep it at a safe distance.

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    Another one I thought of was it was symbolic of the journey itself, mainly the distance. While we don't know what humans achieved in the future timeline Interstellar is set in, I'd say it's safe to assume we still hadn't landed a man on anything past the moon. As such, it was "their" way of telling us, "It'll be a long journy just to get to this point, but if you can make it this far, you have a good chance of surviving somewhere on the other side of this wormhole we've made for you."
    – MattD
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 15:44
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    There's also the symbolism with early exploration, where men at sea would be gone not just for days or months, but even years. This can be backed up by the fact that they say it'll take them around 2 years just to get to the wormhole near Saturn. They had to travel far and in dangerous conditions to reach their destination or goals, and traveling to another galaxy in which to settle is no different.
    – MattD
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 15:46

Two guesses, in order of probability:

  • Even they were not able to pinpoint the exact location of the wormhole's end at creation. If we assume a deviation factor for the exact location of a wormhole's end, then the wormhole could be estimated even closer or further than Saturn. They also had to account for time dilation: the wormhole may not be too close to Earth. Thus this - the distance from Earth to Saturn - was the shortest safe distance possible. That it turned out to be in the neighborhood of Saturn was just a coincidence.
  • They chose the location on purpose this far from Earth, so they knew for sure once we would notice it, and be able to reach it, we actually could go through it. Assume the wormhole was located at the Moon's distance, then maybe we would be too eager and without appropriate preparation to make it to the other side.
  • What does it have to do with time dilation, though? The wormhole didn't have such effects, or did it?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 11:33
  • Well, it had on the other side. Then why wouldn't it on this side?
    – NGLN
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 12:12
  • Hmm, ok. But then the question is if the gravity that comes through the wormhole (which is the much more dangerous thing and indirectly causes the time dilation) wouldn't disturb the whole solar system's (or at least Saturn's) orbital mechanics anyway. But ok, that's what the security distance is for in the end. Makes sense.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 12:21
  • "Well, it had on the other side" - Wait (have you changed/deleted a comment or was this always the comment and I misread it the first time?), this sounds like you're saying the time dilation came from the wormhole (or I might just be misinterpreting the comment). But it didn't, it was the black hole on the other side of the wormhole. The only possibility would by gravity/time-dilation from the black hole leaking through the wormhole, but I'm not sure that's what you're saying with that comment.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 14:10
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    Oh, in this case you have indeed. Those were two entirely different things.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 16:23

My guess is that the wormhole had to be orbiting some object in order not to drift away or just stay in the same location (since we know that the solar system is moving around the center of the galaxy, and Saturn itself is moving across its orbit around the sun), and Saturn could have been the only planet with the correct mass to hold the wormhole in orbit at a safe distance from other objects in the solar system.

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    what do you mean by correct mass or safe distance??
    – cuSK
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 16:04

I was watching the movie for the second time this afternoon and when they reached the Gargantua end of the wormhole it occurred to me that just dropping in at a dead stop near such a huge gravity well would make for a short, unhappy life.

Unless you arrive with the right velocity to be in some kind of orbit around the black hole. That made me think there was a correlation between the orbital velocity of the endpoint at Saturn and the endpoint in Gargantua's system, or at least the orbital velocity of an object passing between them.


you know saturn is called "father time" so put the illuminati god with symbolism and reference and you can see why they chose to put a time portal next to the planet of "father time".Its just another way for the pagans to pay trubite to their god in the sky.

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    Huh? You lost me.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 18:10

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