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Cassini Observes Hurricane-Like Storm On Saturn 69

Aglassis writes "The Cassini spacecraft recently observed a hurricane-like storm on the south pole of Saturn. What makes this storm particularly interesting is that this is the first time that a clearly defined eyewall has been seen outside of the Earth in the Solar System. Neither the Great White Spot of Saturn nor the Great Red Spot of Jupiter have had an observable eyewall. NASA, JPL, and the Space Science Institute have released a short movie of the motion around the eyewall (mirrored at YouTube)."
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Cassini Observes Hurricane-Like Storm On Saturn

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  • Although I don't think this one led to 1200 dead or left to die.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      5,000 miles wide -- unlike anything ever seen spotted on Saturn.

      And just like Katrina, it must be global warming.
      • Worse, I am afraid. Like Super Typhoon Tip, but bigger, and with 550mph winds...
      • ...What does this have to do with my post?
        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
          Katrina reference.
          • Actually it's a reference to a recent Audioslave song [] about Katrina and Bush. It doesn't mention global warming at all.
            • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by gfxguy ( 98788 )
              Gosh, this is so stupid... why are you so offended that I replied to your message? Holy Crap. You made a reference to Katrina, Global Warming alarmists blamed global warming for Katrina, the whether on Saturn is apparently getting worse (see my quote), so it must be global warming. What's your problem? Do I need to make a chart?

      • And just like Earth, the republicans are in denial of any pollution effects at all.

        Really the party of Universal Denial

        * No, we are not losing the war , it is a perennial readjustment !
        * No, we didn't just lose the election, it's fresh ideas !
        * No, there is no tempest on Saturn, it's a liberal optical effect !
  • by scoser ( 780371 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @10:57AM (#16793578) Journal

    It's an alien transportation portal!

    I for one welcome our gas giant portal-creating overlords and any new cliches they can teach us!

  • Saturn Visibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lecithin ( 745575 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:07AM (#16793692)
    For you folks that actually get up when it is still dark, Saturn is really nice this season:

    Saturn (magnitude +0.5, in Leo), rises around 11:30 or midnight and is in fine view high in the southeast by early dawn. Regulus, about half as bright, sparkles 5 below Saturn after they rise. By dawn Regulus is to Saturn's lower left. []

    • I just saw this on Jack Horkenheimer (Star hustler) on pbs. For 5 minutes a week, this show has a lot of cool stuff. I'm glad I have a dvr. I remember watching this when I was 5-10 or so.

      He gives very good tips for how to identify different starts, where to find them, what's going on, etc.
  • by GreggBz ( 777373 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:15AM (#16793774) Homepage
    For those interested, unmannedspaceflight has active discussions on well.. unmanned space [] flight, and in particular, this mission. Cassini is another successful unmanned mission. Space is really starting to get exciting again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "...starting to get exciting again"? Since Galileo arrived at Jupiter more than a decade ago and there has hardly been a lull in flagship-class missions (let alone missions to Mars, comets, asteroids, Venus, etc.) since then, I tend to feel that we're well past the start :)
      • by GreggBz ( 777373 )
        You're right. Maybe I'm just starting to pay attention. Let's hope that others follow suit (I think the Internet really helps), which would only be good for humanity.
    • by sighted ( 851500 )
      Unmannedspaceflight is a fantastic site. Anyone interested in the topic will also want to check out Riding with Robots [], which offers free widgets and screen savers that download the latest probe imagery.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by illectro ( 697914 )
      Imeem may not have screwed up the video, but I on the other hand managed to screw up the link [].
      • I've added some more informative tags to the video. Nice site, thanks! Youtube is just one step away from myspace, and imeem is quite refreshing.
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:27AM (#16793928) Homepage Journal
    ...that's Great Caesar's Goatse!!! Be VERY afraid.
  • So now home insurance premiums on Saturn are going to go through the roof!
  • After staring at it for a few seconds I expected James Bond to appear and shoot at me.
  • You can get the press-release from the source at [], if you so desire.
  • This would have been a better article if it had been about Uranus.
  • This image and its' writeup on the Cassini Website says this hurricane cut 20-45 miles through Saturn's cloud cover. The Cassini Team was able to calculate this figure from the way the Sun's shadow deepened on the 3 hour (14 frames) image.

    My questions are:
            1) how thick was the remaining cloud layer, and
            2) would it be possible to get a view of Saturn's surface?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by meringuoid ( 568297 )
      My questions are: 1) how thick was the remaining cloud layer, and 2) would it be possible to get a view of Saturn's surface?

      Saturn is mostly gas; the planet as a whole is considerably less dense than water. There isn't really any solid surface to speak of; we generally consider the cloud tops to be the surface for all intents and purposes.

      Somewhere way, way down there, there may be a solid surface of metallic hydrogen, or possibly crystalline carbon, and perhaps inside that a rocky core somewhat larger

      • If you look at the atmospherics of terrestrial hurricanes, they are the source of low barometric pressures. Since the cloud material on Saturn is so much denser, it follows that the atmospheric pressure are alleviated in these "hurricanes". It would be worth 5 years of my life to find out by how much - perhaps some Fluid Dynamics researcher may consider modeling this scenario.
  • Not to go ruining perfectly wonderful Bush/Katrina/goatse discussions by talking about science, but I thought I'd point out why this is actually really interesting to a lot of people outside of NASA. There are a large subset of people studying the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn because they provide really nice examples of atmospheric processes on Earth under more "ideal" circumstances. The typical storm on Jupiter or Saturn behaves much more similarly to a mid-latitude storm on Earth from a fluid mecha
  • Seriously, if you have hardware that is working fine with Windows XP or Win 2k3 Server, what possible reason do you have for taking a risky manuver like the Vista "upgrade"? A saner "migration plan" is to use the machine as is till it fails.

    Contrary to what Microsoft wants you to believe, if your machine functions today it suddenly will not "suck" the day Vista comes out. Stay with what works *now* instead of doing untested upgrades.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"