Saturn and Jupiter Yield Diamond Rain

Diamond trail

Here on Earth the rain we experience is very ordinary, nothing like diamond rain yielded on Saturn and Jupiter. Our planet is so different that there is no way it could manage something like that, but experts say that due to the layout of the planets, Saturn and Jupiter experience diamond rain continually.

Kevin Baines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA’s JPL, and Mona Delitsky of California Specialty Engineering, came forward at the annual American Astronomical Society meeting to present this new research of diamond rain on Saturn and Jupiter. It is still early so this new research has not been peer reviewed or published. Other planetary experts seem convinced and have preliminary confirmed the findings.

One of the scientists that predicted similar situations on Uranus and Neptune, Raymond Eanloz, has commented on the subject saying that the possibility of diamond rain on Saturn and Jupiter is “sensible.”

The best way to understand why these planets have diamond rain is to first start with the composition of these planets. Both are gas giants that have a radius of around 10 times that of the Earth. Saturn is about 75,000 miles across and Jupiter is about 87,000 miles across. It is likely that these two planets have a small rocky core although it is not certain. The atmosphere around the Earth ends around 62 miles, we do not have a specific amount of what it is like on Saturn and Jupiter but it is at least tens of thousands of miles, certainly unlike what we are familiar with. By far the biggest contributor to both planets is hydrogen gas. Certainly the planets composition differs drastically from that of Earth.

The beginning of the diamond rain process on Saturn and Jupiter occurs in the upper atmosphere. When lighting strikes methane it turns into soot (carbon) and falls from the upper atmosphere. Pressure increases as the soot falls and transforms the soot into graphite. When the pressure becomes too great (occurs after about 4000 miles) the graphite will turn into diamond. The diamonds then fall for a length that is three times the diameter of Earth, at which point it is suspected that the diamond rain reach the core of the planet which has temperature and pressure so high that the diamond will liquify. It is suspected that the size of the falling diamonds are very small, likely half the size of an inch. After the diamonds become liquid they go through the evaporation process as our rain does, and once again becomes diamond rain.

It is difficult to say for sure if diamond rain is something we as a people would be able to get our hands on; it would no doubt be an extremely expensive endeavor requiring a plethora of different gadgets and tools. We would need to safely get deep enough into Saturn or Jupiter to collect the diamonds and make it all the way back to Earth/ Fairly unlikely. Baines and Delitsky are concerned with researching this diamond rain, not collecting it as I am; but they probably don’t have as much of a need to impress their girlfriend as I do.

 

Written By; Garrett Jutte

Sources

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