Skydiving on Saturn

Daredevils regularly bail out at high altitude to skydive through Earth’s atmosphere but what would it be like to skydive on Saturn?

Would you jump in summer into an atmosphere shrouded in a yellow-ochre haze, aim for winter when the planet is tinged blue, or maybe leap into the shadow of those famous rings?

These thoughts were prompted by new research from an international team led by Oxford University scientists into a powerful storm on Saturn first spotted in December 2010.

‘What we see when we look at Saturn in visible light is the top of the cloud decks - that’s near the top of the troposphere or ‘weather zone’ - made up of ammonia clouds and other hazy materials,’ Leigh Fletcher of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, who led the work, tells us.

‘This top layer of cloud is a bit like the skin of an apple, it stops us seeing the body and ‘core’ of the planet underneath.’ What lies beneath is a mystery, but Saturn sometimes shows its true colours in spectacular fashion.

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Posted: June 9th, 2011
at 8:25pm by mnp

Categories: space

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