Diamonds in the sky: Scientists find Jupiter and Saturn are awash in diamonds

Oct 09, 2013

Recent work by planetary scientists has indicated that the deep atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn may contain chunks of diamond floating in a liquid hydrogen/helium fluid.

Planetary scientists Mona L. Delitsky of California Specialty Engineering in Pasadena, California, and Kevin H. Baines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have compiled recent data about the phase diagram of carbon and combined them with newly published adiabats (pressure-temperature diagrams) for Jupiter and Saturn to calculate that diamond will be stable in the deep interiors. Further, at altitudes below the regions where diamond is stable, the pressures and temperatures will be so large as to melt the diamond into liquid, creating diamond rain or liquid diamond.

Recent publications by Nettelmann et al. (2008, 2011) have reported improved adiabats based on new equations of state for the materials inside of Jupiter and Saturn, and new experiments by researchers at Sandia Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory using shockwave techniques (notably those of Knudson et al. 2008 and Eggert et al. 2010) have given clear boundaries for the different phases of carbon. Delitsky and Baines are reporting that elemental carbon such as soot or graphite generated in Saturn's enormous lightning storms will descend into the planet and will be crushed into at deep altitudes and then melted into liquid diamond near the cores of the planets.

While it has been known for 30 years that diamond may be stable in the cores of Uranus and Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn were thought to be too hot or to not have conditions suitable for precipitation of solid diamond. The cores of Uranus and Neptune are too cold to melt diamond. The new data available has confirmed that at depth, diamonds may be floating around inside of Saturn, some growing so large that they could perhaps be called "diamondbergs."

In a recent book, Alien Seas, (Springer 2013), edited by renowned space artist Michael Carroll, a chapter by Baines and Delitsky entitled "The Seas of Saturn" was published. Using this new accurate data, a story about robot mining ships plying the deep interior of Saturn in the far distant future and collecting chunks of diamond was described. The artwork (see images, below) shows robot hands reaching out to capture diamonds and collect them for transport to Earth. Because of this new information, theorists Delitsky and Baines report that "diamonds are forever on Uranus and Neptune and not on Jupiter and Saturn."

Explore further: Diamonds grow like trees, but over millions of years

Provided by California Specialty Engineering

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User comments : 11

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Matthewwa25
2.1 / 5 (15) Oct 09, 2013
Who ever that says there isn't a economic benefit to space travel= idiot.
Milou
2.1 / 5 (14) Oct 10, 2013
Female astronauts are standing in line for the next trip.
TransmissionDump
2.5 / 5 (11) Oct 10, 2013
Female astronauts are standing in line for the next trip.


All we need now is a planet with atmospheric precipitation of handbags and shoes to complete the system.
triplehelix
1 / 5 (9) Oct 10, 2013
Who ever that says there isn't a economic benefit to space travel= idiot.


Of course, if too many diamonds are found, it will make them a less rare material, and thusly, like inflation, devalue the diamond.

So in actuality grabbing lots of diamonds up would just cause an artificial boom in economy and then a massive market crash would occur.

I am sure the govt will do it ASAP.

Just remember when to buy and sell at the key moment.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2013
Who ever that says there isn't a economic benefit to space travel= idiot.

Of course, if too many diamonds are found, it will make them a less rare material, and thusly, like inflation, devalue the diamond


Anything available in huge quantity ends up being traded as a commodity based on supply and demand. Like other resource commodities, it would come to a point where you aren't even guaranteed to recover your costs for extraction and processing. Diamond doesn't have that many practical uses compared to other materials. In terms of useful substances, it might be more profitable to mine nitrogen from the surface of a moon, for agriculture.

Then again, we really have an abundance of everything we need here on Earth. It's just that it isn't easily accessible. Relative to bringing it back from space, that inaccessibility becomes trivial. Space resources are more useful for people living off Earth than for people here.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2013
Diamonds, beryl, and precious metals can be used in construction and industry and will be used in large quantities when we can begin creating them in bulk and mining them in outer space. Imagine deep submersibles with sapphire hulls for instance.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2013
Imagine deep submersibles with sapphire hulls for instance


Perhaps, but the future is notoriously difficult to predict.

What if biological technology makes mechanical technology obsolete, for example? Rather than build anything, maybe we will grow our structures and vehicles one day. We can already build a synthetic framework between fractured or missing pieces of bones and use stem cells to grow new bone. What if you could build a model of your submersible out of foam and grow a shell over it with super-properties like those of spider silk? Or some kind of 'living' submersible that has biological life support genetically integrated into it?

I'm just pointing out that your assumption that space resources will one day be used on Earth is impossible to predict. We may not need them by the time we are able to affordably get them.
wwqq
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2013
Diamonds, beryl, and precious metals can be used in construction and industry and will be used in large quantities when we can begin creating them in bulk and mining them in outer space. Imagine deep submersibles with sapphire hulls for instance.


Sapphire is aluminium oxide. Its very common and dirt cheap. We make sand paper out of it because its hard and abrasive, we don't make subs out of it because it is brittle and can't withstand tension.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2013
What if biological technology makes mechanical technology obsolete, for example? Rather than build anything, maybe we will grow our structures and vehicles one day
I suppose we will use the appropriate materials in the appropriate applications, wouldnt you suppose this as well?

"Sapphire, the hardest natural substance after diamond, might soon be used to make smartphone screens. Sheets of sapphire glass are already used by the military to create transparent armor... Sapphire is a transparent, crystalline form of aluminium oxide (alumina) that is extraordinarily hard, scratch-resistant, a melting point of 2,030C, and almost completely impermeable and impervious to caustic chemicals."

-A vessel hull made of monocrystalline sapphire might be just the thing for exploring the ocean of europa which may be 60 mi deep. But youre right, maybe artificial bones and stem cells would be more appropriate. We could call it Leviathan.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2013
because it is brittle and can't withstand tension
A spherical hull at depth would not be in tension.
Sapphire is aluminium oxide. Its very common and dirt cheap
-Except for the crystalline version which is very expensive in large sizes.

Theyre already making this stuff for many applications.
http://americas.k...hire.pdf

-Perhaps we will be able to manufacture diamond structures of this size.
wwqq
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2013
A spherical hull at depth would not be in tension.


A real hull has engines, doors, various attachments and things with different thermal constants. It has to be moved and has to withstand a bang or two without cracking.

Monocrystalline alumina, "sapphire", is not terribly expensive. What is expensive is machining and grinding deffect free sapphire windows.

Polycrystalline alumina has better mechanical properties, and worse optical properties(which does not matter unless you are making an IR camera for a missile or similar). It can be produced with cheap sintering technologies.

What you are proposing, tugging a giant sapphire from a gas giant, which would require materials vastly supperior to sapphire, and machining a sub out of a solid block is far more expensive than just making it out of polycrystalline sapphire on Earth.