Watch This: Cassini Captures Saturn’s Wild Polar Hurricane

By Gemma Tarlach | April 30, 2013 2:54 pm

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. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

The Cassini spacecraft has provided NASA with the first visible-light glimpse of a massive weather system circling Saturn’s north pole. The spinning storm is 20 times larger than the average hurricane on Earth.

Cassini detected a vortex-like weather phenomenon inside a mysterious, hexagonally shaped jet stream near Saturn’s north pole shortly after arriving at the planet in 2004, but Saturn’s winter prevented any visible light viewing. Since its equinox in 2009, however, Saturn has been receiving more sunlight at its north pole, illuminating the hurricane-like system, which scientists believe has been ongoing, possibly for years.

This NASA video clearly shows the system’s cloudless eye and counterclockwise spin, evocative of our planet’s hurricanes, though its size — the eye alone is 1,250 miles across — and speed, clocking in with 300 mile an hour winds, are on a far more impressive scale.

NASA researchers hope to determine whether the system is a hurricane and, if so, how it sustains itself given the limited amount of water on Saturn.


Video courtesy of NASA

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: cassini, hurricane, NASA, saturn
  • Dustin Gee

    Cant you have one with about any type of liquid/or large group of gasses?

  • Jason Fenley

    Staring down over the pole, it appears that Saturn lacks polar high pressure akin to the polar highs on Earth. It looks like Saturn has a huge northern hemispheric, semi-permanent low.. why is that? Where’s its’ polar high pressure? Does the Coriolis force play out differently on planets dissimilar to Earth?

  • WoWed

    something tells me this has nothing to do with weather.

    • Brendan

      What is it then?

  • Del Parrish

    As long as you have circulation between hot and cold layers of gases and liquids, I suppose it would work with hydrogen, helium, CO2, nitrogen, oxygen, H2O, S2O. Imagine a sulfur dioxide hurricane. Ouch!

  • everett

    that is so cool i love the color


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