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What are Saturn's gases?

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Quick Answer

Saturn's gases are about 96 percent hydrogen and 3 percent helium, with small amounts of ethane, methane, ammonia, propane and phosphine making up the rest of the atmosphere. Saturn is considered a gas giant, because much of it is made of gas.

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Scientists believe that Saturn has a rocky core beneath its layers of gases and clouds that is somewhat larger than Earth.

Hydrogen is not only the most abundant gas in Saturn's atmosphere, it is the most abundant gas in the universe. Scientists believe that 90 percent of the universe that can be seen is made out of hydrogen. Hydrogen is made out of one proton and one electron.

Helium was named after Helios, the Greek sun god, because it was discovered on the sun before it was found on Earth. It is the second-most abundant gas after hydrogen. Helium is considered a noble gas because it does not normally form compounds with any other element. This is very different from hydrogen, which bonds with different elements and produces everything from water to complex carbohydrates.

Ethane, or C2H6, is a colorless and odorless gas. On Earth, it is a byproduct of burning fuel. In the atmosphere, it is the result of the action of the sun's ultraviolet rays on methane, another colorless and odorless gas.

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