Jupiter Forecast: Rain, With Chance of Diamonds

Two scientists float the possibility of liquid gems in space
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2013 12:59 PM CDT
Jupiter Forecast: Rain, With Chance of Diamonds
The planet Jupiter is seen in a NASA photo taken by the Hubble telescope.   (AP Photo/NASA)

It's just a theory, but a pretty dazzling one. Two scientists this week laid out the tantalizing possibility that Jupiter sees raindrops of liquid diamond and Saturn gets diamond hail, reports Nature. If true, both planets would be teeming with the gems. "If you had a robot there, it would sit there and collect diamonds raining down," says one of the scientists, Kevin Baines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The possibility stems from the fact that both planets have methane in their atmospheres, explains Red Orbit.

As the theory goes, lightning zaps the methane and creates carbon soot. The soot gets exposed to intense pressure as it falls, turning into graphite, and then into, voila, diamonds. Adds National Geographic: "At the greatest depths of Jupiter's atmosphere, the conditions are so extreme that the gems may actually form an ocean of liquid diamond." Note for ambitious space miners: All the reports include doses of skepticism from other scientists. (Still, it's more exciting than the recent discovery of plastic on a moon of Saturn.)

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