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This is an image of Saturn.
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NASA/JPL

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 is because the composition of Saturn's atmosphere includes more sulfur. This adds to Saturn's overall yellow appearance. When you look closely, however, Saturn's atmosphere is just as fierce as that of Jupiter.

The atmosphere of Saturn, like Jupiter, is only a narrow surface layer, compared to the vast interior of Saturn. The three clouddecks of Saturn are to be found mostly low in the troposphere, while hazes of smog can be found higher in the atmosphere.

Saturn is not much changed from its early evolution out of the primordial solar nebula, and in fact, may still be evolving.

Motions in the cloud patterns indicate that, like Jupiter, the basic meteorology of Saturn can be described as a striped pattern of winds.


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An Overview of Motions in Saturn's Atmosphere

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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

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

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 Aurora

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The Poles of Saturn and Its Moons

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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