Storms on Saturn baffle scientists


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The uncertainty of science: Scientists have identified a new type of storm on Saturn, and they don’t understand the weather processes that produced it.

Until now, astronomers had seen only two kinds of Saturnian storms: relatively small storms about 2,000 kilometers across that appear as bright clouds for a few days and Great White Spots that are 10 times as large and last for months. The newly spotted weather disturbance was a series of four midsize storms. Each was several thousand kilometers across and lasted between about 1.5 weeks and about seven months.

It appears that these midsize storms don’t fit any of their present theories about the formation of storms on Saturn.

However, for any scientist at this time to suggest that any theory about the storms on gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn can explain things is for that scientist to reveal themselves to be arrogant fools. We simply do not know anything about the deep atmospheres and vast climates of such planets. For example, we have yet to send a satellite to either planet devoted entirely to studying their atmospheres. And considering the size of these planets, such research would require a lot more than one orbiter to get a global picture. And it would require decades of coverage to get a long term picture.

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3 comments

  • Lee S

    Saturn, Titan, and Enceladus are far and away my favourite places in the solar system.
    It seems to me that with current or “soon” technology it would be perfectly reasonable to launch a flagship mission involving an orbiter which could release a legion of smallsats to photograph the rings REALLY close up, sample Titans atmosphere, do the plumbs of Enceladus, ( and even a hard landing ) and a decent into the highest level of Saturn’s atmosphere.
    I am sure it will come… But I would like to see the results in my lifetime…

  • Lee S

    On a kinda related note… Whic I have often considered, but not for a while now, and perhaps never on here…
    I believe the average contribution to NASA from an average US tax payer is around the 0.5% of tax on income.
    I know there are very litteraly millions of us outside the US who would be more than happy to “chip in”.. if there was a mechanism to allow it.
    I have no idea how it could be made workable, but there are millions upon millions of us here outside the USA who look in wonder at your space agency…
    If there are any internet banking geniuses out there… Have a think… And if it’s workable, have a word in NASA’s ear!!

  • Edward

    Lee S,
    It looks like donations to NASA are possible:
    https://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/npg_img/N_PR_1210_001A_/N_PR_1210_001A_.pdf
    This NASA Procedural Requirement (NPR) establishes responsibilities, procedures, and requirements governing the use and expenditure of funds in the form of monetary gifts, donations, and bequests that are unsolicited and offered to NASA without condition.

    It looks like you may not direct your donation to any specific program, project, or facility but only to NASA in general for it to choose how to spend.

    I found this by starting with this post:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/2mcnw6/we_cant_donate_money_to_nasa_so_what_is_the_next/
    One comment directs prospective donors to this page to print out and send in with your donation:
    https://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/displayDir.cfm?Internal_ID=N_PD_1210_001G_&page_name=main

    An alternative would be to invest in a company that is working on the project that you wish to fund, but this is ownership, not donation toward the project.

    Thank you for your interest in our space agency. It is nice to know that it is appreciated.

    Please be aware, however, that your country also has its own space agency:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_National_Space_Agency

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