What Is the Weather on Saturn?

Science Photo Library – MARK GARLICK./Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

With an average temperature of minus 288 degrees Fahrenheit and frequent, powerful storms throughout the planet, Saturn is not hospitable to life. Unlike most planets in the Milky Way, Saturn derives its heat from its core rather than from the Sun. The planet is known as a gas giant; it is primarily composed of gases, including hydrogen and molecular helium.

Clouds cover Saturn, with the upper layer of clouds consisting of ammonia ice. Beneath that is a layer of ammonium hydro-sulfate clouds. The lowest layer of clouds on the planet are water clouds. The storms that occur on Saturn do so around its rings. A single storm is capable of lasting for many years.

Saturn’s interior temperatures climb as high as 21,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The planet radiates twice the heat it receives from the sun, which is located 891 million miles away in space. Scientists speculate that the interior heat is created by the planet’s gravitational compression as well as by the friction occurring as helium regularly seeps into the planet’s core. Most of what scientists know about conditions on Saturn comes from data gathered during the Voyager I and Voyager II space flights that occurred in 1980 and 1981 respectively.