RECENT LOCATIONS

Close
Add a location
Edit your saved locations

Saturn 'burps' after severe storm


Clouds in Saturn's northern hemisphere indicate the ending of a large storm in 2010-2011 (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)
Clouds in Saturn's northern hemisphere indicate the ending of a large storm in 2010-2011 (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

October 25, 2012 — NASA's Cassini spacecraft has observed the tail-end of large storm on the ringed planet.

In 2010, the Cassini spacecraft captured the grand finale of a large storm on Saturn, consisting of a powerful discharge that sent the planet's stratosphere soaring 150C above normal, coupled with a huge 'belch' of ethylene gas.

Ethylene isn't normally found on Saturn, and scientists aren't sure what caused the odourless, colourless gas to appear, and in such a large quantity.

According to researchers the gas spike contained 100 times more ethylene than scientists thought possible on the planet.

The temperature spike set a new record for the largest atmospheric change in Saturn's recorded history.

"This temperature spike is so extreme it's almost unbelievable, especially in this part of Saturn's atmosphere, which typically is very stable," said Brigette Hesman, the study's lead author, in a statement.

"To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you'd be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert."

The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Sign in or Sign up to submit a comment.




Comments





Take your weather with you, no matter where you go.

Get instant forecasts and alerts, right on your computer.

  • RSS & Data
Add weather updates to your website or RSS reader.