It’s hard to imagine a planet less hospitable for life than Saturn. The planet is comprised almost entirely hydrogen and helium, with only trace amounts of water ice in its lower cloud deck. Temperatures at the top of the clouds can dip down to -150 C.
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Temperatures do get warmer as you descend into Saturn’s atmosphere, but the pressures increase too. When temperatures are warm enough to have liquid water, the pressure of the atmosphere is the same as several kilometers beneath the ocean on Earth.
To find life, scientists will want to take a good look at Saturn’s moons. They’re comprised of significant amounts of water ice, and their gravitational interaction with Saturn probably keeps their interiors warm. Saturn’s moon Enceladus is known to have geysers of water erupting from its southern pole. It’s possible that it has vast reserves of superheated water beneath an ice crust.
And Saturn’s moon Titan has lakes and seas of hydrocarbons, thought to be the precursors of life. In fact, scientists think that Titan is very similar in composition to the Earth’s early history.
Hydrocarbons have even been detected across the surface of Saturn’s moon Hyperion.
There might not be life on Saturn, but there are enough intriguing locations to explore around the ringed planet to keep astronomers busy for years.