Saturn's predominant lifeform begins with allotropes of elemental carbon: graphene, diamond, nanotubes and geodesic shapes. These are doped in places with nitrogen, phosphorus, and germanium. (Germane really is germane; it is an observed component of Saturn's visible atmosphere) Some of these materials have semiconductor-like properties, and contain a sort of genome or program. The organism obtains its energy by being a long filament which, when stretched or released, produces a voltage, which is carefully accumulated. The stored power is used to create radio or terahertz waves that can be focused to a specific point on the organism to catalyze specific chemical reactions according to the frequency and location. (I am very foggy on how this should happen, but I'm not feeling ready to ask that question yet)

During its early evolution on Mars, before spreading via the zodiacal light, the organism could attach CO2 to itself to extend its carbon structure. On Saturn it does something similar with CH4. In either case, the carbon allotrope structure is extended slowly. I am picturing this as an organism without "as much genetics" or as interesting a biochemistry as Earth life, which (dubiously) explains why somehow Earth's ecosystem was able to prevent it from taking hold. It is more alive than fire, less alive than we are.

Nonetheless, on Saturn it has expanded its repertoire, creating extended regions of nitrogen-sulfur polymer (such as polythiazyl). These allow the organisms to become colossal in size. The organisms become thin membranes hundreds of meters wide, which spin and flap in the turbulence of the atmosphere to capture ambient energy which they use for logic, to control their flight, and to pump hydrogen molecules directly from upper to lower surfaces. Imagine a contagious graphene-diamond frisbee that floats in the air forever.

The life cycle begins with a larval stage - produced by accidental fragmentation of adults in turbulent winds, desquamation (peeling off) from existing adults, or (historically) intentional self-fragmentation of adults lacking in critical resources. The larva descends deep into the planet's atmosphere to accumulate a stockpile of trace elements rare in the upper atmosphere of Saturn. After it has accumulated sufficient resources for further development, it ascends to the high atmosphere, where clouds of NH4SH predominate. There it produces its polythiazine extended structure, reinforced by more filaments of carbon. Finally it descends somewhat for a long adult life at about 15 atm of pressure, in the region where liquid water is found. (more on this environment) enter image description here

When the larval form descends, it can probably endure some quite high temperatures and pressures, but probably not 1200 K, I think. Note that Saturn goes up to somewhere between 8000 to 12000 K at its core. The risk is substantial, because it is hard for the larva to maneuver in dense supercritical atmosphere. A prolonged downdraft will probably destroy it.

I have very little conception of the unknown layers of Saturn below the region of liquid water. Stack Exchange's figure above, like all such figures I've seen, stop there. No one has seen below the water - even the water is uncertain - the rest is up to speculation, I think. I don't know if there are deeper layers of weather phenomena different from anything we see at the surface, or places where sodium or gold rain from the sky. I don't have a good sense of what minerals could be dissolved in the supercritical hydrogen. I don't know if there should be related organisms native to that environment which have found ways to avoid the risks long term. So I'm not at all sure what to say about the journey these organisms make.

What notable phenomena and useful resources plausibly await these organisms in the shallow depths of Saturn?

N.B. This question describes the phase of evolution of these organisms before life forms originating from Earth became involved. Though that will happen, you should leave them out for now.


1 Answer 1


As of May 2021, it’s believed that the bottom 60% of Saturn is a diffuse mix of gas, dust, and rock.

Source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2104.13385v2.pdf

I think the model you might be able to use is an ocean with no bottom. There may be something like haloclines (sediment concentration) boundaries; thermoclines (thermal boundaries), clouds, dust, lightning. There is some region of peak pressure and temperature, and if you were to keep traveling “straight ahead” it would all start to drop off again. Provided you don’t hit a rock.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .