HUGE HURRICANE RAGES ON SATURN

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HUGE HURRICANE RAGES ON SATURN

 user 2006-11-13 at 11:31:00 am Views: 49
  • #16769

    Huge ‘hurricane’ rages on Saturn
    A
    hurricane-like storm, two-thirds the diameter of Earth, is raging at
    Saturn’s south pole, new images from Nasa’s Cassini space probe
    reveal.Measuring 5,000 miles (8,000km) across, the storm is the first
    hurricane ever detected on a planet other than Earth.Scientists say the
    storm has the eye and eye-wall clouds characteristic of a hurricane and
    its winds are swirling clockwise at 350mph (550km/h).However, unlike
    Earth hurricanes it seems stuck at the pole, not drifting.”It looks
    like a hurricane, but it doesn’t behave like a hurricane,” Dr Andrew
    Ingersoll, a member of Cassini’s imaging team at the California
    Institute of Technology said. “Whatever it is, we’re going to focus on
    the eye of this storm and find out why it’s there.”Though Jupiter’s
    Great Red Spot storm moves anti-clockwise, and is far bigger than the
    storm on Saturn, it does not have the eye and eye-wall that mark out a
    hurricane.
    We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a spectacular-looking storm,Michael Flasar, Nasa astrophysicist
    An
    Earth hurricane’s eye and eye-walls form when warm, moist air flows
    inwards across an ocean’s surface and rapidly rises vertically,
    dropping heavy rain in a circular band around descending air in the
    eye.But Saturn is a gaseous planet therefore this storm does not have
    an ocean at its base.The Saturn storm is bigger not only in diameter
    than an Earth hurricane, but in height too, with a ring of huge clouds
    towering 20-45 miles (30-70km) above the well-developed eye – two to
    five times higher than in storms on Earth.

    Unknown phenomenon
    One
    Nasa scientist, Michael Flasar, told Reuters news agency that the storm
    looked just like water swirling down a bath plug hole, only on a
    colossal scale. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr Flasar
    said. “It’s a spectacular-looking storm.”Fourteen frames of the storm
    were captured by the Cassini spacecraft over the course of three hours
    on 11 October 2006.Cassini was passing about 210,000 miles (340,000km)
    from the ringed planet as it continues its exploration of Saturn and
    its moons.Cassini entered into orbit around Saturn on 1 July 2004.
    Later that year, it released the piggybacked Huygens probe towards the
    planet’s largest moon, Titan.Huygens touched down on Titan on 14
    January 2005, sending back data on the moon’s atmosphere, weather and
    its surface.The Cassini-Huygens mission is a co-operative project of
    the US space agency (Nasa), the European Space Agency (Esa) and the
    Italian Space Agency (Asi).