Diamond rains – an imaginary descent to Saturn’s surface

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(photo from http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/168541-diamond-rain-falls-on-jupiter-and-saturn)

[While reading this, I recommend listening to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqgiw3dasEg]

Methane winds violently rush through the higher athmosphere.. vortices form and turbulent thunderstorms, the lightnings crisscrossing the alien sky. The globular lightnings leave smoky dark branching root-like after-images behind, the tremendous energy pyrolyzing the methane into carbon dust..

These root thin drawings of soot are ephemerous – made of burnt methane, they instantly disintegrate through the vorticous action of the storm – and then gradually, imperceptibly, fall for miles down into the hallucinating Saturnian atmosphere. As they disappear from sight within the lower layers of these life-forbearing dark clouds, they begin to condense.

While winds and currents violently perturb the motion of the dust in a chaotic way, lurking behind we find the subtle force of gravity, which is subtle but constant, its accumulated influence becoming preponderant over the course of days and weeks.

..After a some hundred miles of this inexhorable chaotic descent we see small particles of carbon forming, as the pressure increases to that of the bottom of an earth’s lake – the small particles of dust are getting larger, as they fly between sparse crystals of ice, within a dense intoxicating high-pressure and heavy athmosphere of methane and ammonia..

..After 1000 miles and perhaps years of descent we see that this dust has become denser, more compact, and a different, heavier form of carbon – graphite – can now be observed. Yet the attraction of the ringed giant is ever stronger, and descent does not stop, but the carbon’s fate becomes more obscure, farther from  the eyes of earth-controlled observers.

What happens to this familiar yet barren dark mineral dust inside the surreal saturnal deep admosphere? Might the dust particles slowly grow and compactify even more? Perhaps, rather realistically, that by a depth of 6,000 miles, these chunks of falling graphite toughen into diamonds – still stronger and unreactive. Such gems which are rare and precious, found on earth’s surface only because of tectonic movements making them re-emerge from the deep layers of the crust where tremendous pressure compactified them, are so special in our blue home planet.. Is it not an uncanny coincidence that “Saturn”, the name of our god of the underworld, was chosen to name this remote planet where the deep-burrowing gems might be raining like hail?..

..At 6000 miles the descent of the carbon-stones does not end: they proceed their bottomless decent for as much as two-and-a-half Earth-spans, meeting a region whose appearance is open to the wildest speculations.. the pressure and temperature are so hellish that even diamonds could not remain solid. It’s very uncertain what happens to carbon down there. Could we imagine a sea of cabon, at these pressures where even diamonds collapse?..

..What is called “eternal” in our world becomes “melting carbon ice” in another.

Sources:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v292/n5822/abs/292435a0.html

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013DPS….4551209D

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v292/n5822/abs/292435a0.html

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