Saturday, October 27, 2012

Huge Saturn Storm Keeps Surprising Scientists

by Staff

Date: 26 October 2012 Time: 07:00 AM ET
Saturn Great White Spot Storm
An image of Saturn taken in December 2010 by the Cassini spacecraft shows a storm with a latitudinal and longitudinal extent of 10,000 km and 17,000 km, respectively. The latitudinal extent of the storm’s head is approximately the distance from London to Cape Town. A "tail" emerging from its southern edge extends further eastward.
CREDIT: Carolyn Porco and CICLOPS; NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
A massive storm that encircled Saturn nearly two years ago was even more powerful than scientists had thought, new research reveals.

Observations by NASA's Cassini spacecraft — which first detected the tempest in December 2010 — show that the enormous Saturn storm sent temperatures in the planet's stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius) above normal, according to a new study.

"This temperature spike is so extreme it's almost unbelievable, especially in this part of Saturn's atmosphere, which typically is very stable," study lead author Brigette Hesman, of the University of Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.

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