Massive Storm on Saturn

The storms that occur on other planets are almost nothing like the tornadoes or hurricanes that we face here on Earth. Massive storms called Great White Spots that occur on Saturn are 10 times the size of normal storms that travel across the planet’s surface and don’t occur that often. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is recently observing Saturn from space and was fortunate enough to capture an image of one of the humongous Great White Spot storms. The images that were taken from winter of 2010 to February 2011 reveal a storm that is around 6,200 miles in width. This is equal to 8 times the Earth’s surface. When compared to some of the biggest storms that have occurred on Earth, Earth’s storms look like a breeze. One of the greatest winds recorded was in November of 1998, called “Mitch.” Being one of the most deadliest hurricanes ever, the wind was recorded at 236 mph. Even the disastrous Hurricane Katrina, which was the most costly hurricane in the history of the US and killed 1,836 people, didn’t cause as much damage as a storm on Saturn can. The storms on Saturn are quite unprecedented.

Furthermore, back in December of 2010, the instruments on the Cassini spacecraft picked up radio and plasma-wave signals from a thunderstorm that was preparing itself in Saturn’s Northern hemisphere. After a short while, an atmospheric disturbance was spotted on the planet. It quickly grew in an east-west direction from its vertex at 41 degree latitude. Since the discoveries found then, professionals were tracking the emergence of this storm until it finally hit the planet. Storms as massive as the Great White Spots seem to emerge every Saturnian year, which is about 29.5 Earth years. When these events occur, gases from deep below the troposphere boil up into the lower stratosphere, which cause major changes in the temperature and the chemistry of the upper atmosphere is modified.

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