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Saturn's Atmosphere: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rachel Torrens
Saturn is famous for its rings, but in this lesson you'll discover the other unique properties of this planet! For example, learn about Saturn's cloud decks, ferocious winds and terrible thunderstorms in this lesson.

Saturn Has More Than Rings

Saturn, the famously ringed planet, is the sixth planet from the sun, which is rather far. This means that Saturn is cold; in fact, temperatures on Saturn range from 0-250 degrees Celsius. Brrr! That's really cold, and this plays a big role in Saturn's atmosphere.

You see, Saturn is made up mostly of gases. There is no ground surface! Rather there are layers of elements in various states of matter surrounding a rocky core. Let's journey together from Saturn's outer atmosphere all the way to its rocky center!

Saturn is a cold planet.
Saturn image

Saturn's Layers

So, first up, is the outer atmosphere, which is made mainly of hydrogen with a little helium and a dash of other elements, such as oxygen and nitrogen.

As we continue to go deeper, we'll reach Saturn's inner atmosphere or troposphere. It is in the troposphere, the lowest level of an atmosphere, where weather tends to happen. The gases in the troposphere are in their gaseous state. But since different gases have different weights, they separate into cloud decks. A cloud deck is a layer of clouds made of similar materials at a particular altitude. The ammonia clouds are on the top, followed by the sulfur-containing clouds and then the water clouds.

Time to go deeper to the 'surface' of Saturn. The surface is not a type of ground like we have here on Earth. Instead, it is made up of hydrogen and helium! But this time, instead of being in their gaseous state of matter, they are liquids; the liquid hydrogen rests above the liquid helium.

Finally, scientist hypothesize that these layers surround a giant rocky core. Seeing through all the clouds makes it difficult to know for sure.

Saturn's Winds

Saturn is a very windy place. And the winds are fast; scientists have measured the winds at over 1,000 miles per hour! These winds whip up Saturn's various layers, giving it the appearance of having stripes or bands. The bands are not as clearly defined as Jupiter's, but this is because of the sulfur. The sulfur clouds are yellowish and smog-like, so Saturn's bands look hazy. Nevertheless, Saturn has rings around it and bands on it, and that's special.

The high-winds on Saturn cause the surface to look striped or banded.
Bands of Saturn

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