Storm Over Saturn



Discussion about weather is often relegated to the realm of awkward small-talk and complaints about the heat/snow/rain, but extraplanetary weather is a different thing altogether... at least for me. These images of a storm over Saturn's surface--the largest ever recorded on the planet--are interesting and beautiful. The false color doesn't hurt, but it's still so massive that imagining it takes a bit of brain yoga.
First detected in December 2010, the storm has developed from a small spot into a raging storm covering an area about 4 billion square kilometres, or eight times the surface of the Earth, in Saturn's northern hemisphere.

The false colours on the images mark the different altitudes of clouds: blue clouds reside at the highest altitude with those in red at the lowest. The two high-resolution images at the bottom are mosaics, each made up of 84 images taken over 4.5 hours. The lower of the two was taken 11 hours, or one Saturn day, after the first.

The top two images are enlargements taken from the earlier of the two bottom images. They show the head of the storm (top left) and its turbulent middle (top right). Calculations reveal that the head of the storm is moving west at a speed of about 100 kilometres per hour.

Link | Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

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