Storm on Saturn from Cassini (February 25, 2011)

Storm on Saturn from Cassini (February 25, 2011)

You can see a huge storm (the largest, most intense storm observed on Saturn by NASA’s Voyager or Cassini spacecraft) churning through the atmosphere in Saturn’s northern hemisphere overtakes itself as it encircles the planet in this true-color view. THis image is captured on February 25, 2011. The storm was already begun twelve days ago. During that time, some of the clouds moved south. This tail, which appears as slightly blue clouds south and west (left) of the storm head, can be seen encountering the storm head in this view.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were acquired with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.2 million kilometers) from Saturn.

Huge storms called Great White Spots have been observed in previous Saturnian years (1 Saturnean year is about 30 Earth years), usually appearing in late northern summer. But, neither the Voyager nor the Cassini spacecraft were at Saturn for previous Great White Spot appearances. At the time the images were taken, Saturn was experiencing early northern spring, so this storm, if it is a Great White Spot, was happening earlier than usual.

You can also See Spotting Saturn’s Northern Storm for a nearly true-color view taken in December 2010 and A Day in the Life for false-color high-resolution views of the storm taken in February 2011.

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