Location and Orbit
The Atmosphere and
Interior and Physical Structure
Moons and Rings
Missions to Saturn
References & Links
Saturn: Atmosphere and Magnetosphere
Saturnís clouds are less vivid and colorful than those of Jupiter. This is, perhaps, partially owing to the amount of sulfur in the atmosphere which creates Saturnís yellow appearance. The stripes on the planet surface are the bands of winds that circle the planet. Like Jupiter, Saturn has three cloud decks and a smog haze above the troposphere.
Saturnís atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, with trace amounts of methane, ammonia, and other compounds. Molecular hydrogen forms 96.3% of the atmosphere, followed by helium at 3.25%. The remainder is divided between (in decreasing order) methane, methane, ammonia, hydrogen duteride, ethane, and possible aerosols of ammonia ice, water ice, and ammonia hydrosulfide.
Like all gas giants, Saturn has a strong magnetosphere, extending beyond the orbits of Saturnís moons. It is most likely generated in the same way as Jupiterísóthe metallic-hydrogen dynamo generating a powerful magnetic charge. Saturn's magnetosphere produces auroras, as well as strong radio emissions and whistler waves, also common to Uranus.
Copyright © 2000 by Gary Chan and Matthew McDermott. All rights reserved.