What Is Saturn Made Of?

February 15, 2024

Saturn is a giant gas planet made mostly of hydrogen and helium, but it is known most for its beautiful rings. It is the sixth planet from the Sun and has more than thirty-two moons. Its dazzling rings are comprised of billions of ice, dust and rock particles that orbit the planet. Some are as small as a grain of salt, while others are as big as houses. Astronomers think the rings are made from debris thrown into orbit by the planet’s massive gravity as it formed 4 billion years ago.

Deep inside Saturn, it has a rocky core that’s surrounded by a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen and then by a thin outer gas layer. At higher temperatures and pressures, the metallic hydrogen transforms into a hydrogen plasma and forms the planet’s clouds.

At lower temperatures and pressures, the hydrogen in Saturn’s atmosphere behaves mainly as a gas. But beneath the atmosphere, at temperatures of thousands of kelvins and pressures of over a million bars, molecular hydrogen can become a liquid.

As the hydrogen molecules move inward toward Saturn’s molten core, they collide with other atoms and form heavier elements like carbon, oxygen, silicon, magnesium and iron. These elemental building blocks make up most of Saturn’s rocky core.

Mission

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