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Monster storm on Saturn
Guest_Sunspot_*
post Nov 9 2006, 07:09 PM
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http://ciclops.org/view_event.php?id=57

A hurricane-like whirlpool with a well-developed eye ringed by towering clouds, a phenomenon never before seen on another planet, has been sighted by multiple Cassini instruments at Saturn's south pole.
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marsman
post Nov 9 2006, 11:14 PM
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Remarkable! Cassini has done it again. The large number of spotted white clouds adds additional splendor. Given its location at the South Pole, how would the planet's rotation affect the circular direction of the storm?
ohmy.gif
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craigmcg
post Nov 14 2006, 12:56 AM
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Some more interesting facts form the Ciclops site:

... winds blow at 550 kilometers (350 miles) per hour
.... clouds tower 30 to 75 kilometers (20 to 45 miles) above those in the center
... is approximately 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) across
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nprev
post Nov 14 2006, 02:05 AM
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Definitely gives you a feel for just how deep the atmospheres of the Jovian planets really are...amazing. Does this appear to be a relatively permanent feature, like a whirlpool?


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edstrick
post Nov 14 2006, 10:09 AM
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The Voyager data, when processed into polar stereographic or some such projection, revealed a hexagonal wave-belt/zone pattern at something like 82 or 85 deg north, surrounding the pole. There was a short paper on it, in Nature or perhaps Geophysical Research Letters or the like. Whether there was a more detailed and numeric study of the atmosphere dynamics of a stable periodic wave structure at that latitude, I don't know. I've been wondering if there was the same at the south pole.... uh... guess not!
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ugordan
post Nov 14 2006, 01:04 PM
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A humorous writeup on Uncyclopedia.org about the hurricane on Saturn:
NASA chief Michael Griffin resigns over handling of Saturn hurricane


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Bjorn Jonsson
post Nov 14 2006, 03:11 PM
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QUOTE (edstrick @ Nov 14 2006, 10:09 AM) *
The Voyager data, when processed into polar stereographic or some such projection, revealed a hexagonal wave-belt/zone pattern at something like 82 or 85 deg north, surrounding the pole. There was a short paper on it, in Nature or perhaps Geophysical Research Letters or the like. Whether there was a more detailed and numeric study of the atmosphere dynamics of a stable periodic wave structure at that latitude, I don't know. I've been wondering if there was the same at the south pole.... uh... guess not!

It's been known for some time (10 or even close to 15 years) from Hubble images that there is no hexagon near the south pole. This rendering (which BTW needs to be updated) I did a few years ago shows the northern hexagon fairly well.
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scalbers
post Nov 16 2006, 06:52 PM
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QUOTE (marsman @ Nov 9 2006, 11:14 PM) *
Remarkable! Cassini has done it again. The large number of spotted white clouds adds additional splendor. Given its location at the South Pole, how would the planet's rotation affect the circular direction of the storm?
ohmy.gif


I wonder if the spotted clouds could be made of water?


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antipode
post Dec 14 2006, 10:13 PM
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Next time we venture out to Saturn, how feasible would a direct entry probe into the south polar vortex be? I'm thinking something on a chute, or even a blimp, that could sense the environment over, and within, the vortex, and survive until a considerable crush depth. Think of the 'interior' images it could return of the eyewall dymanics if it was fairly longlived!

Okay - I can think of some pretty major challenges for a probe like this - especially getting data back to earth at reasonable bandwidth (polar orbiter?). However I'd like some experts/insiders to comment. Is the south polar vortex a potential realistic target of interest? The interest applies not just to Saturn, but to Venus, what happens under the polar dark hoods of Mars, and even to what we might one day find at the poles of Uranus and Neptune.

P
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edstrick
post Dec 15 2006, 11:05 AM
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The vortex would be a *BAD* place to go for a probe trying to answer the big questions about deep atmospheric composition. Like the 'blue hot spot' on Jupiter that the Galileo probe accidentally descended into, the vortex is a down-welling zone of clear, dry air, equivalent to a high pressure airmass on earth's surface. The descending air has been "wrung out" of water and other condensible vapors and is not chemically representative of the deep interior, the way rising air coming up from great depth under a cloud deck would be.
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antipode
post Dec 15 2006, 01:13 PM
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Good point. I had my 'pixel porn' goggles on. biggrin.gif Seen too many videos of flights through *Earthly* Hurricane eyewalls I guess...

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ugordan
post Oct 27 2007, 01:35 PM
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To complement this release, here's what the south vortex looks like in approx. natural color, courtesy of the VIMS instrument:



The view was slightly sharpened to bring out features and magnified 4x.

Click above image for a short flyover animation.


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mchan
post Oct 27 2007, 11:05 PM
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Good image. Ditto the animation. I am guessing the animation sequence was in chronological order. I imagine the effect may be a little more dramatic if the sequence were in reverse order.
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ugordan
post Jul 17 2008, 09:36 AM
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There's a nice new narrow-angle set of the south polar vortex, including some RGB data. I tried to composite it to get an approx. natural color shot, despite the large contrast stretch applied to raw images. I based the color balance on the above VIMS view. I think the cloud ring visible in the NAC view is the innermost one in the VIMS view.


Click image to enlarge. The contrast is probably still a bit too high, but I didn't want to wash out all detail.


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jasedm
post Jul 17 2008, 09:45 AM
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Beautiful image - might this be a candidate for the end-of-mission plunge? (after the XXM and XXXM of course!)
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