(NASA) A Raging Storm System on Saturn Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
It was one of the largest and longest lived storms ever recorded in our Solar System. First seen in late 2010, the above cloud formation in the northern hemisphere of Saturn started larger than the Earth and soon spread completely around the planet. The storm was tracked not only from Earth but from up close by the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. Pictured above in false colored infrared in February, 2013, orange colors indicate clouds deep in the atmosphere, while light colors highlight clouds higher up. The rings of Saturn are seen nearly edge-on as the thin blue horizontal line. The warped dark bands are the shadows of the rings cast onto the cloud tops by the Sun to the upper left. A source of radio noise from lightning, the intense storm was thought to relate to seasonal changes when spring emerges in the north of Saturn. After raging for over six months, the iconic storm circled the entire planet and then tried to absorb its own tail – which surprisingly caused it to fade away.
Earth is not the only world with storms in our Solar System, and in many cases, even our most destructive storms are pipsqueaks compared to our neighboring worlds.
Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect has clouds of CO2 and likely lots of lightning.
Mars is known for its dust storms, some are so huge that they will pose threats to future astronauts on Mars. Pictured is a simple dust devil.
The Jovian Giants are full of storms. Jupiter’s big red spot is perhaps the most famous, but the other gas giants are no stranger to epic storms that last many years.
Titan has a dense atmopshere and has an abundance of methane. There are storm systems that rain liquid methane. This means there are vast seas and rivers of methane too.
It rains diamonds on Saturn. Lightning storms turn methane into soot that hardens into chunks of falling diamonds. This could be the most popular form of precipitation in the solar system, because scientists think it also happens on Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. (source)
Most storms are easily recognizable from space. The giant hurricanes on Jupiter and Neptune make circular formations, just like the storms on Earth. Saturn, on the other hand, likes to do things differently. As in “impossible to the point of being ridiculous” differently.
That there, friends, is a close-up image taken of a perfectly ordinary day on Saturn’s north pole. You may notice a couple of things that would make it a bad place to spend your holiday. One, the whole pole appears to be perma-covered in a giant, demonic-looking storm; and two, said storm is a perfect hexagon.