Saturn Hurricane: Space Probe Spies Massive Storm At Planet’s North Pole (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

NASA Cassini Solstice Mission: Report

Saturn Hurricane: Space Probe Spies Massive Storm At Planet's North Pole (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole.  In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists see the hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Thin, bright clouds at the outer edge of the hurricane are traveling 330 mph (150 meters per second). The hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon.


Interactive model of Cassini


NASA Saturn homepage


On Monday, NASA released stunning photos and video of a massive storm that researchers believe has been swirling at high speed around Saturn’s north pole for years.  Called a “Saturn hurricane,” the huge vortex was first detected when the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft entered orbit around the planet in 2004, NASA said.  Cassini — an unmanned probe funded by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency — had to wait years for Saturn’s north pole to be lit up by the sun before it could photograph the storm, NASA said. The spacecraft also had to change its orbit to get a clear view of the area, a process that required years of planning.