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Giant storms on Saturn: Nasa captures incredible view of ‘rose’ hurricane 20 times bigger than any on Earth


  • Hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth
  • Hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon

By MARK PRIGG

PUBLISHED: 17:40 GMT, 29 April 2013 | UPDATED: 18:49 GMT, 29 April 2013

At first glance, it resembles a giant rose, surrounded by green foliage.

However, in fact this is a huge, violent storm of the surface of Saturn – and one that has been brewing for years

In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists say the hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth.

The spinning vortex of Saturn's north polar storm The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).
Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole.

Thin, bright clouds at the outer edge of the hurricane are traveling 330 mph(150 meters per second). The hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon.

‘We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth,’ said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

‘But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn’s hydrogen atmosphere.’

Scientists will be studying the hurricane to gain insight into hurricanes on Earth, which feed off warm ocean water.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2316699/The-breathtaking-rose-storms-Saturn-captured-Cassini.html#ixzz2S7oHC54E

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NASA’s Cassini Sees Burp at Saturn After Large Storm

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

These red, orange and green clouds (false color) in Saturn's northern hemisphere indicate the tail end of a  massive storm

These red, orange and green clouds (false color) in Saturn’s northern hemisphere indicate the tail end of a massive storm that started in December 2010. Even after visible signs of the storm started to fade, infrared measurements continued to reveal powerful effects at work in Saturn’s stratosphere. Image credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
› Full image and caption

October 25, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a rare massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet’s upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought.

Data from Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument revealed the storm’s powerful discharge sent the temperature in Saturn’s stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit (83 kelvins) above normal. At the same time, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Md., detected a huge increase in the amount of ethylene gas, the origin of which is a mystery. Ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas, isn’t typically observed on Saturn. On Earth, it is created by natural and man-made sources.

Goddard scientists describe the unprecedented belch of energy in a paper to be published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

“This temperature spike is so extreme it’s almost unbelievable, especially in this part of Saturn’s atmosphere, which typically is very stable,” said Brigette Hesman, the study’s lead author and a University of Maryland scientist who works at Goddard. “To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you’d be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert.”

Read more: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-335&rn=news.xml&rst=3564

Saturn and Its Largest Moon Reflect Their True Colors

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

ScienceDaily (Aug. 29, 2012) — Posing for portraits for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, Saturn and its largest moon, Titan, show spectacular colors in a quartet of images being released today. One image captures the changing hues of Saturn’s northern and southern hemispheres as they pass from one season to the next.

Colorful Colossuses and Changing Hues: A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)
 
 

A wide-angle view in today’s package captures Titan passing in front of Saturn, as well as the planet’s changing colors. Upon Cassini’s arrival at Saturn eight years ago, Saturn’s northern winter hemisphere was an azure blue. Now that winter is encroaching on the planet’s southern hemisphere and summer on the north, the color scheme is reversing: blue is tinting the southern atmosphere and is fading from the north.

The other three images depict the newly discovered south polar vortex in the atmosphere of Titan, reported recently by Cassini scientists. Cassini’s visible-light cameras have seen a concentration of yellowish haze in the detached haze layer at the south pole of Titan since at least March 27. Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer spotted the massing of clouds around the south pole as early as May 22 in infrared wavelengths. After a June 27 flyby of the moon, Cassini released a dramatic image and movie showing the vortex rotating faster than the moon’s rotation period. The four images being released today were acquired in May, June and July of 2012.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120829191639.htm

 

Cassini sees tropical lakes on Saturn moon


June 15, 2012
Scientists had thought that Titan simply had extensive dunes at the equator and lakes at the poles, but now they know that Titan is more complex than previously thought.
by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Saturn’s rings lie in the distance as the Cassini spacecraft looks toward Titan and its dark region called Shangri-La, east of the landing site of the Huygens Probe. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spied long-standing methane lakes, or puddles, in the “tropics” of Saturn’s moon Titan. One of the tropical lakes appears to be about half the size of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, with a depth of at least 3 feet (1 meter).The result, which is a new analysis of Cassini data, is unexpected because models had assumed the long-standing bodies of liquid would only exist at the poles.

Where could the liquid for these lakes come from? “A likely supplier is an underground aquifer,” said Caitlin Griffith from the University of Arizona in Tucson. “In essence, Titan may have oases.”

Understanding how lakes or wetlands form on Titan helps scientists learn about the moon’s weather. Like Earth’s hydrological cycle, Titan has a “methane cycle,” with methane rather than water circulating. In Titan’s atmosphere, ultraviolet light breaks apart methane, initiating a chain of complicated organic chemical reactions. But existing models haven’t been able to account for the abundant supply of methane.

“An aquifer could explain one of the puzzling questions about the existence of methane, which is continually depleted,” Griffith said. “Methane is a progenitor of Titan’s organic chemistry, which likely produces interesting molecules like amino acids, the building blocks of life.”

Global circulation models of Titan have theorized that liquid methane in the moon’s equatorial region evaporates and is carried by wind to the north and south poles, where cooler temperatures cause methane to condense. When it falls to the surface, it forms the polar lakes. On Earth, water is similarly transported by the circulation, yet the oceans also transport water, thereby countering the atmospheric effects.

The latest results come from Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, which detected the dark areas in the tropical region known as Shangri-La, near the spot where the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe landed in 2005. When Huygens landed, the heat of the probe’s lamp vaporized some methane from the ground, indicating it had landed in a damp area.

Areas appear dark to the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer when liquid ethane or methane is present. Some regions could be ankle-deep puddles. Cassini’s radar mapper has seen lakes in the polar region but hasn’t detected any lakes at low latitudes.

The tropical lakes detected by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer have remained since 2004. Only once has rain been detected falling and evaporating in the equatorial regions, and only during the recent expected rainy season. Scientists therefore deduce that the lakes could not be substantively replenished by rain.

“We had thought that Titan simply had extensive dunes at the equator and lakes at the poles, but now we know that Titan is more complex than we previously thought,” said Linda Spilker from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Cassini still has multiple opportunities to fly by this moon going forward, so we can’t wait to see how the details of this story fill out.”

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-172

NASA’s Cassini Finds Saturn’s Moon Phoebe Has Planet-Like Qualities


April 27, 2012 12:58 PM EDT

Phoebe

Saturn’s moon Phoebe(Photo: NASA)

Data from NASA‘s Cassini mission reveal Saturn’s moon Phoebe has more planet-like qualities than previously thought.

Scientists had their first close-up look at Phoebe when Cassini began exploring the Saturn system in 2004. Using data from multiple spacecraft instruments and a computer model of the moon’s chemistry, geophysics and geology, scientists found Phoebe was a so-called planetesimal, or remnant planetary building block. The findings appear in the April issue of the Journal Icarus.

“Unlike primitive bodies such as comets, Phoebe appears to have actively evolved for a time before it stalled out,” said Julie Castillo-Rogez, a planetary scientist at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “Objects like Phoebe are thought to have condensed very quickly. Hence, they represent building blocks of planets. They give scientists clues about what conditions were like around the time of the birth of giant planets and their moons”

Read more: http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/2993/20120427/nasas-cassini-finds-saturns-moon-phoebe-planet.htm