Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cassini spots north pole cyclone on Saturn

Everyone is facinated by NASA's first string of robots and rovers on Mars... However my favorite is the oft unsung workhorse Cassini. Shaun Saunders sends in a story from Space.com about a recent discovery that Cassini just observed on Saturn. The spacecraft has discovered a giant cyclone swirling on Saturn's north pole equaling a similar storm observed earlier on the planet's south pole. Scientists report that either one of these storms is easily 100 times stronger than any cyclone on Earth. Conjecture has it that water vapor consencing lower in the atmosphere is forming huge thunderstorms and thus spinning up the gigantic circular storms. But the simularity to Earth based storms breaks down quickly thereafter. Unlike Earth's hurricanes, which stem from the ocean's heat and water, Saturn's cyclones have no body of water at their bases. The storms on that planet are locked to Saturn's poles, whereas terrestrial hurricanes drift across the ocean.

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