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The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is in our online store, filled with Earth and space science resources.
This is an image of Saturn.
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NASA/JPL

An Overview of the Evolution of Saturn's Atmosphere

Atmospheres of the giant planets have definitely evolved from their formation out of the primitive solar nebula. How much they have evolved remains to be seen, however. Because of their enormous gravity, most of the original atmosphere of the planet remains in place. (The terrestrial planets lost all of the original atmosphere they were made with, because the atmosphere drifted away).

Saturn is made primarily of the basic materials hydrogen and helium, which is what existed in the vicinity of Saturn when it was forming.


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The position of Saturn when gas changed to ice

The position of the planets in the solar nebula greatly affected their 1. size and 2. composition. This is because of the effect of how cold it was in the nebula. 1. The nebula was a lot warmer close to...more

An Overview of Saturn's Atmosphere

The dramatic appearance of Saturn stems mainly from the spectacular rings. What is visible of the atmosphere is much less dramatic. The clouds of Saturn are much less colorful than those of Jupiter. This...more

An Overview of Motions in Saturn's Atmosphere

The most important motions in the atmosphere are winds. The major winds in Saturn's atmosphere are the zonal winds which are composed of alternating belts and zones flowing in opposite directions. Belts...more

Saturn's Belts and Zones

The striped cloud bands on Saturn, like Jupiter, are divided into belts and zones. In a belt, the wind flows very strongly in one direction only. In a zone, the wind flows very strongly in exactly the...more

How a proto-planet sweeps up nearby material

As shown in this picture, while they were forming in the solar nebula, the nucleii of the planets-to-be (called protoplanets) drew material to themselves from the cloud of gas and dust around them. The...more

Saturn's Strange Hexagon

Astronomers have discovered a bizarre, hexagon-shaped feature in the clouds of Saturn near the planet's North Pole. The feature was first seen in images returned by the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s,...more

Saturn's Southern Polar Vortex

Saturn's South Pole is an extremely stormy and surprisingly warm region. A vast, hurricane-like storm centered on the South Pole dominates the area. Astonishingly, the pole is also warmer than any other...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF