Stormy Skies

Saturn's Storms
Saturn's Storms

A blue-tinted circular storm blemishes Saturn’s creamy complexion while wispy rings slice the planet with their shadows. This photo, shown in true color, was taken by Cassini’s wide-angle camera at an orbiting distance of 662,000 miles.

Enhanced view
Enhanced view

Saturn is mostly atmosphere, and a stormy one at that, made of hydrogen, helium and traces of ammonia and methane. High winds in excess of 300mph combine with heat generated from the interior to create powerful thunderstorms and hurricanes complete with lightning and rain. The bluish storm in this photo is more than 2,000 miles across.

Currently Saturn is angled so that its rings are on the same plane as its orbit around the sun, hence the shadow of the rings is merely a thin band. The transparency of the rings is clearly seen here…although they extend hundreds of thousands of miles, they are only 30 feet thick. It’s still not known for certain when and how they formed.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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9 Comments

  1. Spectacular!

    I would love to be a little interplanetary bug riding on Cassini! But this is the next best thing! 😀

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  2. Can you imagine a storm 2000 miles in diameter?

    If Saturn had life, would all of it be just that much bigger in scale than we are?

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    1. J. Major says:

      Maybe, maybe not. Life on a planet like Saturn has been hypothesized to be based around living in different layers of atmosphere…flying, floating, gas-filled creatures that can adjust their buoyancy, like giant bluebottle jellyfish…..it’s all the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, but based on the fact that Saturn has no solid ground per se and is constantly churning with storms and winds. Not a place for life as we know it, but then, not everything happens as we expect. And that’s the fun of it. 🙂

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      1. Lauri says:

        I remember seeing artist renditions of Saturn life, each floating in it’s chosen layer of swirling atmosphere.

        I don’t think it’s farfetched at all considering some of the creatures there are on this planet!

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  3. Gordan says:

    This is one of the loveliest color composites CICLOPS released recently, IMHO. Not too garish and saturated colors, looks very natural. Kudos to the team.

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    1. J. Major says:

      Plus the composition of the release photo is rather intriguing. They did well. Almost as good as you. 😉

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      1. Gordan says:

        Actually, this was one of those images I wish I did first, not them! It helps they have a 9 month head start on the data 😉

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        1. J. Major says:

          Cheaters! haha

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