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Unmanned > Outer Solar System > Saturn
Richard Trigaux
I wonder what really are those huge storms on Saturn.

There are plenty of vortexes of all size on Saturn, but relatively quiet: regular shape, no lighting. But this one is much more powefull, with lightning and large plumes of cloud, and also it reappears all the time in the same place, moving against the wind and lefting a trail behind.

In general Saturn vortexes and general circulation are caused by absorption of sun heat in lower cloud layers, which cause cumulus to form, and a general circulation pattern. We can admit that from times to times the equivalent of Earth cyclones form, but they seem relatively quiet, except this one.

I wonder if this one precisely would not have a more internal origin, and be the result of internal planet heat escape. The quivalent of a volcano, but in thousands kilometres thick air layers.

Such internal circulation (completely independent of sun heating, which don't reach so deep) was studied, and it was found that it may organize itself in cylindrical vortexes, parallel to the rotation axis of the planet, in such a way to avoid the solid core while being tangent to it. Such vortexes would end in two points on the surface, all to the same latitudes. There would be a source end rejecting gasses, and a sink end at the opposite lattitude, absorbing gasses like a whirlpool.

This model was proposed for Jupiter, where we really find an alley of white vortexes at a given latitude, and another of dark vortexes at the opposite latitude. But it is not provent that they are source and sink ends of internal vorrtexes, or just surface atmospheric vortexes.

On Saturn, this "storm alley" would be finely explained with one such vortex, which would explain why it is much more violent than the others. Eventually we should find the sink vortex at the opposite latitude, but it may be much more discreet or even invisible under cloud layers.

The discontinuous activity of the storm alley would be explained by a discontinuous activity of the inner vortex formation. (when a vortex has exhausted the energy of a given region, it dies, and another forms into another region).

- Strange Shape In Saturn's Cloudtops

Pasadena CA (SPX) Apr 11, 2006 - Cassini's latest close pass by the ringed
planet shows a bright, somewhat distorted feature in Saturn's southern
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