Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cassini documents the development of a giant storm on Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft captured from birth and followed the evolution of a giant storm that spread over an area of 15,000 km on the north side of Saturn for 200 days, which broadcast the images NASA . In the pictures you can see a small spot that appears December 5, 2010 and gets bigger until it turns into a giant storm, by the end of January 2011 goes around the entire planet. This is the biggest storm detected on Saturn last two decades and the largest ever observed from an interplanetary spacecraft.

The same day as the high-resolution cameras of Cassini captured the first images of the storm, the radius of the probe and the plasma wave instrument detected the electrical activity of the storm, revealing that he was a convective storm. Cassini found that the active phase of the storm ended in late June, but the turbulent clouds are still generated in the atmosphere today. The storm, which had an activity period of 200 days, broke records and surpassed a previous storm detected on 1903, it remained for 150 days. "Saturn's storm was more like a volcano that Earth's climate system," said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of Cassini's imaging team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The pressure builds up over many years before The storm broke. The mystery is that there are no rocks to resist pressure to delay the eruption for many years, "he said in a statement released by NASA. The Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, is a joint project of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian (ASI). Cassini was launched into space in October 1997 together with ESA's Huygens probe. The ship reached the vicinity of Saturn in 2004 to begin the study of Titan, the largest moon of the planet. Since then, Cassini's 12 instruments have been transmitting information from the Saturn system for nearly six years, although it was supposed to end its activity in late 2008. Last year, NASA decided to extend its mission until 2017 , which allow scientists to study climate change on the planet and its moons.


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