NASA released spectacular new images of a hurricane swirling at Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini spacecraft. The storm 20 times the size of Hurricane Sandy has puzzled scientists, and may give an insight into how terrestrial hurricanes are formed.
The centre eye of the storm on Saturn is about 1,250 miles wide. That’s 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth, that’s the distance between Dallas and Washington, DC.
Usually, hurricanes on Earth have a small eye and much larger outer bands. But incredibly on Saturn 1,250 miles is the distance of the centre eye only. The entire storm could be several thousand miles more.
As for the wind speed in the storm, usually in hurricanes the strongest wind is in the centre of the storm around what is called “the eye wall” of the hurricane, and tends to get weaker as you get to the edge of the hurricane.
The wind speed on the outer edge of the cloud band of Saturn’s hurricane is 330 mph and the winds in the centre eye are four times faster than some of the strongest hurricanes on Earth. To compare Saturn’s storm to hurricanes that affected the U.S., the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. was Camille in 1969 with winds of 190 mph.
One of the interesting facts is that usual hurricanes on Earth feed off the water vapour from the warm ocean water. That gives it the needed energy for the hurricane to develop.
But on Saturn there is no body of water nearby for this storm to feed off. Instead it is feeding off of small amounts of water vapour in Saturn’s hydrogen atmosphere.
Another interesting fact: Hurricanes on Earth form usually in the tropical latitudes and move north due to the forces acting on them. But Saturn’s storm is located at the planet’s north pole that has made it stationary with nowhere further north to go.
Because of this discovery, NASA scientists believe that it could have been there for years. (MEDIA)