Friday, November 10, 2006
Colossal hurricane-like storm seen on Saturn - Yahoo! News: "Colossal hurricane-like storm seen on Saturn By Will Dunham
Thu Nov 9, 5:32 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A colossal, swirling storm with a well-developed eye is churning at Saturn's south pole, the first time a truly hurricane-like storm has been detected on a planet other than Earth, NASA images showed on Thursday.
The storm on the giant, ringed planet is about 5,000 miles
wide, measuring roughly two thirds the diameter of Earth, with winds howling clockwise at 350 mph (550 kph).
Jupiter's Great Red Spot, which swirls counterclockwise, is far bigger, but is less like a hurricane because it lacks the typical eye and eye wall.
The images -- essentially a 14-frame movie -- were captured over a period of three hours on October 11 by the U.S. space agency's Cassini spacecraft as it passed about 210,000 miles
from the planet as part of its exploration of Saturn and its moons.
Michael Flasar, an astrophysicist involved in the mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said the storm looks just like water swirling down the drain in a bath tub, only on a gigantic scale.
'We've never seen anything like this before,' Flasar said in an interview. 'It's a spectacular-looking storm.'
Saturn, the second-biggest planet in the solar system with an equatorial diameter of 74,000 miles and the sixth from the sun, is about 746 million miles from Earth.
Its south pole storm is much bigger than Earth hurricanes. It has a well-developed eye ringed by towering clouds that soar 20-45 miles above those in the dark center, two to five times higher than clouds in our thunderst"