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October 14, 2008

The eye of the storm

Posted: 01:19 PM ET

Check out these new Cassini pictures of the vortex at Saturn's southern pole.

Vortex at Saturn's southern pole. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Inst.

The new images, captured in July, are ten times more detailed than any taken before of this phenomenon. Experts say the vortex is not unlike a hurricane here on Earth...except it rages all the time, and it is anchored to the pole. And it is much larger than any terrestrial storm, about the diameter of the Earth itself, with wind speeds nearing 350 miles per hour.

Like a hurricane, the vortex is awash in convective atmospheric turnover, with warmer gases being pumped up and away from the interior. A detailed image of the eye itself show smaller storms within previous images these just looked like puffy clouds.

Scientists are interested in studying this vortex because it will help them better understand the dynamics of Saturn's atmosphere. It's yet another fascinating target for Cassini as it continues its tour of the Saturn system - the rings, the moons (especially Titan, which is often compared to the primordial Earth, and the geyser moon Enceladus), and these intriguing weather systems.

–Kate Tobin, Sr. Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Cassini • NASA • Space

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Franko   October 14th, 2008 1:29 pm ET

Giant heat engine, vacuming the energy via convection, T^4
Maximized greenhouse, only to be vacum cleaned, not eenough emitters ?

How manyTropopauses has Saturn got ?
Each gas cloding out at it's temperature destined height.
A Hurricane modellers delight.

Larian LeQuella   October 14th, 2008 1:37 pm ET

I sure wish I was working at JPL right now! Those folks are just swimming in data. Dr Phil Plait (Bad Astronomer) also had a blog entry on this with a little more dtail if you all are interested:

Long Live Cassini! 🙂

Franko, that Turing Test just isn't working with me! I know you are not an organic commenter! 😉

Ray G.   October 14th, 2008 1:44 pm ET

NHC is recommending a mandatory evacuation.

Ray G.   October 14th, 2008 1:51 pm ET

... if you zoom way in you can almost make out my beach house.

Franko   October 14th, 2008 2:10 pm ET

This is really interesting example of the greenhouse effect.
On Earth, one Tropopause, Clouds cannot rise above.
Higher up, CO2 does not form clouds.
Tropopause poor are US.

Mars is even poorer, No clouds has the thin atmosphere.

Saturn, every cleaning fluid, liquid, gas, solid
Lot of latent heat, temperature Tropopauses
Endlessly Percolating is the reality of the Greenhoused destiny
Climate modelling, more complex than making scientific coffe

S Callahan   October 14th, 2008 2:23 pm ET

My first thought was ...could God be making another planet....

Great pic (thanks, Kate)....

Franko   October 14th, 2008 2:51 pm ET

"could God be making another planet"

Each Tropopause, each cloud layer, different chemical,
Cleaning fluid cloud, is used by the cleaning, de-licing, Angels of Mercy
So many purgetories, so many unrepented sins
Hence the Tropopause stations, intelligently designed, route to Heaven

Here’s A Few Quick News Items 1.005 « Troythulu’s Rants | musings of a skeptophrenic   October 14th, 2008 3:58 pm ET

[...] October 14, 2008, 15:58 · No Comments First, on, A Storm at Saturn's South Pole With The Diameter of The Earth [...]

W Ice   October 14th, 2008 4:36 pm ET

Hold thy tongue Franko, Itelligent Design has been outlawed by the courts! Anyone have a lawful hyothesis what caused that large hexagon structure to form around Saturns N. Pole? Disclaimer: This comment is the result of a very long sequence of random chemical reactions.

Derek   October 14th, 2008 5:47 pm ET

What is the economy doing to people's brains? Or maybe this is normal for Americans these days? Anyways, I'd like to thank Larian for that wonderful comment and the link to the Bad Astronomer blog. I hope that in the possible Extended-Extended Mission, Cassini will be put in a tight orbit between the rings and clouds of Saturn (of course elongating outwards so that it has enough relative velocity to not be "sucked in").

Larian LeQuella   October 14th, 2008 5:49 pm ET

As a scientific theory, ID doesn't even qualify. ID is the antithesis to science, since it STOPS inquiry. 😉

As to a theory, sadly I am not a Exo-terran meteorologists, so I got nothing on it. Saturn is a pretty strange place to start with. For instance (to use a particularly bad analogy) if Saturn were of uniform density, and you could find a bathtub big enough, the planet would float on water!

Derek   October 14th, 2008 5:58 pm ET

If ID is true in any form or fashion, it most likely takes the form of a young scientist and his experiments. When he accidentally created a powerful, yet tiny explosion (akin to a firecracker exploding) he probably said something to the effect of "Oh sh.." and watched as the chamber filled with a new Universe. Or maybe it's all a magnificent computer simulation and this is just a holographic universe. I doubt it is anything as mystical as a huge freaking hand throwing a lighting bolt and saying "Let there be light!" And he saw the it was good so he made planets and all that jazz. Nah... doubt it. But this is probably no place for a religious debate.

Larian LeQuella   October 14th, 2008 6:06 pm ET

True Derek, although they tend to break out here all too often. 🙂 If you will forgive my copy paste, here is a brief essay on that subject, and why this blog may attract that sort of discussion:

There are many conversations over the conflicts between science and religion, but if we examine them closely we should find that the real conflicts are between more fundamental concepts: dogma and reason. One opposes the other, and insofar as religion remains dogmatic, it will always come into conflict with science.

In the October/November 2005 issue of Free Inquiry, Joshua Fost explains that we should focus on the conflict between dogmatism and reason rather than between science and religion. First, dogmatism can be found in more places than religion, and second, it might be a less confrontational way to frame the issue:

"It is sometimes argued by those who seek harmony between the two camps that faith and reason — religion and science, dogma and skepticism — are simply two different ways of knowing. I disagree. Faith reserves the right to suspend logic, and from there, no progress or understanding is possible. If P and ~P are both true, we know nothing. Our goal, therefore, should be to show not that any particular religion is wrong, but that all dogma-based approaches to life are nonsensical and harmful.

Besides, it is probably easier rhetorically, pedagogically, and socially, not to mention less confrontational, to get a dogmatist to see that emotions are ineffective in solving physics problems than it is to convince a theist that the Bible has nothing useful to say about molecular biology. And yet, the first lesson ultimately leads to the second."

Fost is certainly right that faith, religion, and dogma are not “ways” of acquiring knowledge about the world around us. He is also right that once a system openly and explicitly declares a willingness to ignore or abandon logic, then it forfeits any claim for authority over empirical studies of nature and the universe. This is how dogmatic systems work, though, and not just religious ones — we can find the same thing occurring in a wide variety of ideologies.

Because such ideologies have such an emotional hold over people, though, it can be difficult to get them to understand this. It’s not easy to let go of prejudices and assumptions in the face of cold facts, but there are ways to explain it that might get people started down the right path.

Franko   October 14th, 2008 7:57 pm ET

Extreme Alarmism, Coolism, Warmism – Scareism, spooky are;
The Dogmas issued by a buffer overflowed,
Not Even Totally Wronged, computer model.

Basic concepts, and you too can be a Saturnian Vortex Scientism Climatist

Phase changes (gas, liquid,ice)
Density – Temperature – Convection – Conduction – Radiation

Ray G.   October 15th, 2008 12:30 pm ET

Does there appear to be a dark monolith at the center of the vortex with dimensions of 1x4x9?

Franko   October 15th, 2008 10:24 pm ET

Earth is relatively simple, Tropopause wrings out the water.
A few bats, gorging on insects, creating unusual rain droplets.
Occasional flying pink pig with lipstick, but no flying elephants.

Saturn has many phase changes, chemical and atmospheric interactions.
Temperature changes density. Inversions cause convection

Jessica   October 16th, 2008 10:43 am ET

I think its absolutly incredible how far we have come in technology and photography, that we are able to research these other planets and other new things about the earth.

Franko   October 16th, 2008 5:07 pm ET

PH3, phosphine gas, is in Saturn's atmosphere
A planet of all kinds of poisons
But could life have another working fluid, not H2O, but NH3 ?

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