October 16, 2013
Or rather, it would be if we were on Jupiter or Saturn.
A pair of scientists recently announced that the two planets could be producing as many as 10 million tons of diamonds. They believe that large chunks of the precious stone are floating in the planets’ atmospheres and that, at lower depths where temperature and pressure become extreme, the hard stones are actually pushed past their melting points—which means that it could literally be raining liquid diamond.
Carbon Becomes Graphite Becomes Diamond
It has been speculated for some time that Uranus and Neptune have atmospheres conducive to diamond production, but it was believed that temperatures on Saturn and Jupiter were too inhospitable to produce the same results. Two planetary scientists, however, discovered pure carbon trapped in frozen ammonia within their atmospheres.
They posited that as the carbon drifts down, the increasing pressure forces the carbon dust to group together. Several hundred miles later, the carbon is compressed into graphite, and over 3,000 miles after that, the graphite is crushed into diamond.
Those diamonds, which are believed to be of substantial size, then continue further still through the layers of the planets where, eventually, the temperature becomes so high (surpassing 8,000 Kelvin) that the diamonds are believed to melt.
While the amount of diamonds that are suggested to be contained within these planets would be enough to absolutely flood the current diamond market, the possibility of mining them would only exist far into the distant future.
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This post has not been revised since publication.