The gentle storms of Saturn


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Saturn's gentle storms

Cool image time! The Cassini image above, cropped and reduced slightly, shows a close-up view of Saturn’s cloud tops, taken during Cassini’s May 18, 2017 fly-by.

Clouds on Saturn take on the appearance of strokes from a cosmic brush thanks to the wavy way that fluids interact in Saturn’s atmosphere. Neighboring bands of clouds move at different speeds and directions depending on their latitudes. This generates turbulence where bands meet and leads to the wavy structure along the interfaces.

What I see is a much less turbulent storm pattern, when compared with Jupiter. This is not to say that the weather of Saturn is quiet or peaceful, for it certainly cannot be, considering the gas giant’s size and the depth of the atmosphere. Still, this image suggests that the turbulence is less violent here, possibly because Saturn is farther from the Sun and is hit with less solar energy, and because Saturn is smaller and thus produces less of its own internal energy.

Either way, it is beautiful and mysterious, in the way are all such images of alien places.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *