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“Diamond Rain” Falls On Jupiter And Saturn, Scientists Say
October 15, 2013
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Talking about the weather might be a lot more interesting if we lived on Jupiter and Saturn: according to a report from U.S. scientists, diamonds big enough to be worn as jewellery rain down from the sky on those planets.

The report, which is based on the latest atmospheric data, finds that lightning storms on Jupiter and Saturn turn methane gas into soot, which then hardens into diamonds as it falls through the atmosphere. The biggest diamonds would probably be about a centimetre in diametre, the BBC reports. That would make them "big enough to put on a ring, although of course they would be uncut," says Dr. Kevin Baines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Once they reach the planets' cores, the hail stones of diamond likely end up melting into a liquid sea of carbon (both planets are gas giants, so they don't have a solid surface). Scientists have long believed that Neptune and Uranus may have gemstones on their surfaces, but the atmospheres on Jupiter and Saturn were thought to be unsuitable. New data on Saturn and Jupiter's planetary temperature and pressure suggest they may well be home to diamond precipitation.

Baines and his co-author, Mona Delitsky, presented their findings, which have not yet been published, at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences in Denver, Colorado.

"The bottom line is that 1,000 tonnes of diamonds a year are being created on Saturn," he continued. "People ask me how can you really tell? Because there's no way you can go and observe it. It all boils down to the chemistry. And we think we're pretty certain." 

Other scientists have agreed the possibility of "diamond rain" on the two planets is real, although not proven.

Professor Raymond Jeanloz told BBC he believes the idea of diamonds in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn "does seem sensible." 



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