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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

The giant planets have definitely changed since their formation. But how much remains to be seen.

Most of the original air of the giant planets remains in place. (The earth-like planets lost most of their atmospheres very soon after they formed because the atmosphere drifted away).

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


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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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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. The atmosphere looks much less dramatic. The clouds of Saturn are much less colorful than those of Jupiter. This is because the...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 made of zones and belts. Zones are high pressure systems and belts are low pressure...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 strange shape in Saturn's atmosphere. The shape is a hexagon. The hexagon is near Saturn's North Pole. Scientists aren't quite sure why Saturn has the hexagon shape in its...more

Saturn's Southern Polar Vortex

Saturn's South Pole is very stormy. It is also surprisingly warm. A huge, hurricane-like storm is centered on the South Pole. Astronomers recently discovered that 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 is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA