NASA Captures First Images of Saturn's Titanic Hurricane

NASA Captures First Images of Saturn's Titanic Hurricane

Spring on Saturn has brought images of what some are calling "The Rose of Saturn".

The Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn has brought a fantastic view of the massive hurricane swirling atop the planet's north pole. The pictures captured by NASA's Cassini are the first visible light pictures, and the first relatively close up shots, of the 1,250 mile (2,000 kilometer) wide hurricane's eye. At the outer edges of the huge storm, winds are likely traveling at about 330 miles per hour, or 150 meters per second. Those speeds are about four times what hurricanes average on Earth. Scientists hope to study the huge storm in order to understand more about hurricanes on Earth because of the key differences in how Saturn's hurricane was formed and how it behaves. Scientists think the storm has been going at Saturn's north pole for years, but went unobserved until now because of Saturn's long winter and Cassini's orbit.

Hurricanes on Earth tend to rely on a supply of warm ocean water to grow and sustain themselves. Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member, said the hurricane came as a surprise. "We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth, 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." Saturn's hurricane isn't moving, either, as opposed to north-drifting Earth hurricanes. That's likely because there's no further north for it to go - it's locked at the north pole. Scientists think studying how the hurricane uses water vapor, how it moves, and how it sustains its violent winds will tell them new information about how hurricanes generate and sustain themselves.

The discovery is only now coming to light because when Cassini arrived in 2004, Saturn's north pole was dark for winter. When the polar winter started to fade in 2009, letting the sun shine on the Saturnian north, Cassini started adjusting its orbit to get a better look at the poles. Cassini uses passes on Saturn's moon, Titan, as an aid to conserve propellant, so plotting out courses for the spacecraft takes years.

Images: NASA

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Offhand, I would say it was a direct result of Saturn's magnetic field and rotation interacting, and would urge them to study the effects of such more in depth if they can. Dunno if you can apply the same logic to Earth, though...

Ain't got nuthing on the blue Rose of Ilium.
But still, If we could harness that energy...

Reminds me of the maelstrom in Battlestar Galactica

DVS BSTrD:
Ain't got nuthing on the blue Rose of Ilium.
But still, If we could harness that energy...

We really don't need to go as far as Saturn to attempt to harness massive amounts of wind energy. If we could extract just a hundredth of the energy of an average Earth-based hurricane, it would be more than enough to power the entire electric grid of the entire planet (for the duration of the storm, that is). Really the only advantages the storm on Saturn would have is that it's both long-lasting and immobile....

The_Great_Galendo:

DVS BSTrD:
Ain't got nuthing on the blue Rose of Ilium.
But still, If we could harness that energy...

We really don't need to go as far as Saturn to attempt to harness massive amounts of wind energy. If we could extract just a hundredth of the energy of an average Earth-based hurricane, it would be more than enough to power the entire electric grid of the entire planet (for the duration of the storm, that is). Really the only advantages the storm on Saturn would have is that it's both long-lasting and immobile....

Forget Hurricanes, if we could get a wind farm up in the jet stream we'd be set!

Dafuq?! Did Shinji cause Third Impact again?

Oh, and spoilers.

We have a satellite over Saturn? That is impressive beyond words. Imagine trying to use a pistol to hit a bean moving at hundreds of miles an hour from thousands of miles away.

And we get images back. Damn humanity is awesome.

"No ones mentioned that it looks like frickin' GIYGAS YET?!"

"WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!"

image

image

on a on topic note, looks pretty damn crazy! a bit malevolent too... O_O

the EYE is 2000 km wide!? Typhoon tip was only about 2,200 km wide in total! That thing must be MASSIVE!

Space is really really Dangerous, but there's such an amazing beauty in it all that makes the experience worth it, how we can keep ignoring the vast universe is beyond my comprehension.

every major government should be working towards colonizing mars right now

CharrHearted:
"No ones mentioned that it looks like frickin' GIYGAS YET?!"

"WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!"

image

image

on a on topic note, looks pretty damn crazy! a bit malevolent too... O_O

You cannot comprehend the true form of Saturns hurricane.

doggie015:
the EYE is 2000 km wide!? Typhoon tip was only about 2,200 km wide in total! That thing must be MASSIVE!

The octagonal weather formation that surrounds the storm, and likely results directly from it, is about the size of two Earths.

DVS BSTrD:
Forget Hurricanes, if we could get a wind farm up in the jet stream we'd be set!

That's an interesting idea and not one I've heard before, so thanks for pointing it out. That being said, apparently the effectiveness of doing so is somewhat debatable. From Wikipedia:
"There are two major scientific articles about jet stream power. Archer & Caldeira[34] claim that the jet streams can generate the total power of 1700 TW, and that the climatic impact will be negligible. Miller, Gans, & Kleidon[35] claim that the jet streams can generate the total power of only 7.5 TW, and that the climatic impact will be catastrophic."

So maybe we should hold off on the wind farm, at least long enough enough for further research.

Its interesting how it seems like all of the gas giants have these super hurricanes that go on for upwards of hundreds of years.

Here's a neat image showing the storm in motion

image

This is no hurricane, its merely aliens powering up thier phasor beam to destroy earth. They are late 5 months, apeprently had technical difficulities. this is ap rototype technology you know, otherwise it woudl ahve been field tested before. If sucesfull, this planet incinerator will help in a war agasint the replicators. A AI run alien race.

And seriously, this is a very cool phenomenom to observe, just like the comet raming Saturn was. though how much actually knowledge that can be applied to earth can be extracted is questionable. after all our hurricanes are not like this.

Darks63:
Its interesting how it seems like all of the gas giants have these super hurricanes that go on for upwards of hundreds of years.

Thats what happens when your planet is made of gas.

Viper1265:
Here's a neat image showing the storm in motion

image

You know, squint your eyes a bit and it almost looks like some renaissance era religious painting. Something you'd see on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

 

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