What Is Saturn's Core Made of?

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Saturn is the second-largest planet in the solar system and the sixth planet from the sun. It has large rings surrounding the planet along with 60 moons, its largest one is Titan. You can see Saturn in the night sky without a telescope; it doesn’t twinkle like a star. In 1610, Saturn was seen through a telescope by Galileo. Saturn takes 30 Earth years to finish its orbit around the sun.

History

Saturn was formed more than 4 billion years ago and is made of gases. Saturn was formed by large masses of gas combining in the universe. As the gasses mixed, they got bigger and gathered more gasses. With the help of gravity, Saturn was formed. The two main gases that make up the planet are hydrogen and helium. Saturn also contains methane and ammonia. The planet is almost 75,000 miles in diameter and has the lowest density in the solar system.

Inner Core

Although Saturn is cold on the outside and has a top layer of ammonia ice crystals, the innermost core is around 22,000 degrees. According to research by NASA, Saturn most likely has a rocky core about the size of Earth with gasses surrounding it. It is thought the core is made of iron and other material. Around that inner core is an outer core made of ammonia, methane and water. Surrounding that layer is another of highly compressed liquid metallic hydrogen.

Outer Core

Outside of the inner and surrounding core, the layers become less dense and thin out. There is another layer of hydrogen and helium, then one consisting of less dense hydrogen and helium that then mixes with the atmosphere of the planet. Layers of clouds surround Saturn, which is what we see. The color of the planet is from the sun reflecting off the clouds.

Theories/Speculation

Because of the dense qualities of Saturn, no human or other life would be able to survive on the planet. Because the planet is made up mostly of gases, humans are unable to land on Saturn to conduct tests. There are constant storms on Saturn and a temperature of minus 280 degrees.

Expert Insight

In 1973, NASA sent space probes Voyager 1 and 2, which were able to come within 100,000 miles of Saturn, and document the planet in pictures and conduct tests using probes. Through these photographs and probes, many theories about Saturn, such as if it has a solid core, were able to be proven.

References

About the Author

Sarah Lipoff has been writing since 2008. She has been published through BabyZone, Parents, Funderstanding and Education.com. Lipoff has worked as a K-12 art teacher, museum educator and preschool teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science in K-12 art education from St. Cloud State University.

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