NASA Gets Close View of Saturn’s “Rose” Hurricane

The giant storm is locked onto the planet's north pole, NASA says

By on April 30th, 2013 05:20 GMT

Thanks to the Cassini spacecraft, NASA scientists got the chance to gaze upon a giant storm that has been swirling around Saturn's north pole for years.

The storm very much resembles a hurricane, whose eye measures a whopping 1,250 miles (roughly 2,000 kilometers) in diameter. The eye appears to have little or no clouds at all, specialists say.

As NASA puts it, this makes it about 20 times larger than the eye of run-off-the-mill hurricanes that are typically observable on Earth. 

Unlike the hurricanes that form on our planet, Saturn's storm is locked onto the planet's north pole.

“The polar hurricane has nowhere else to go, and that's likely why it's stuck at the pole,” specialist Kunio Sayanagi explained.

Given its impressive size, it need not come as a surprise that Saturn's hurricane also spins a tad faster than the ones that form on Earth.

Long story short, researchers say that its clouds towards the hurricane's outer edge reach the speed of 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).

“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,” Andrew Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena argued.

The researchers now plan on studying Saturn's north polar vortex in order to gain a better understanding of how such storms form and develop on Earth.

A picture of the hurricane is made available to you in the picture next to this article. The storm resembles a rose because the scientists have color-coded the image.

Thus, the red clouds are lower, whereas the green ones are located higher in the planet's atmosphere.

Check out the video below for more information.

Close view of Saturn's so-called rose hurricane
   Close view of Saturn's so-called rose hurricane
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