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Saturn's Super Storm

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the jupiter's-had-it-too-good-for-too-long dept.

Space 73

An anonymous reader sends in a brief writeup about a massive storm that's been visible on Saturn's surface for a few months now. "As it rapidly expanded, the storm's core developed into a giant, powerful thunderstorm, producing a 3,000-mile-wide (5,000-kilometer-wide) dark vortex possibly similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot." The storm has been photographed by the Cassini probe, Hubble and even amateur astronomers here on Earth. (The Planetary Society Weblog also posted an 8,000-pixel-wide panorama a while back.) "The violence of the storm — the strongest disturbances ever detected in Saturn's stratosphere — took researchers by surprise. What started as an ordinary disturbance deep in Saturn's atmosphere punched through the planet's serene cloud cover to roil the high layer known as the stratosphere." A study on the thermal structure of the storm (abstract) was just published in the journal Science.

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Surely (3, Funny)

tenaciousj (769989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191920)

We must fight to end global warming or this will only continue to get worse!

Re:Surely (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36191972)

excelsior!!!

Have you seen the SUVs on Saturn? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36191980)

They're almost as big as the ones on Earth!

Re:Surely (2, Funny)

agent_blue (413772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36191998)

we already ruled out the sun as a driver of climate change, so the only conclusions are that the people of Saturn have been producing too much greenhouses gases, and thus destroying their planet. ipso facto, there are Martians on Saturn.

Re:Surely (1)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192034)

we already ruled out the sun as a driver of climate change, so the only conclusions are that the people of Saturn have been producing too much greenhouses gases, and thus destroying their planet. ipso facto, there are Martians on Saturn.

Martians? I thought there were too many cows.

Re:Surely (1)

RoboRay (735839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193920)

Are you suggesting that Martians living on Saturn may be practicing Hindu?

Re:Surely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192110)

Aren't martians from Mars? Wouldn't these be Saturnians? Are you saying that Martians, having destroyed their home planet, have moved to Saturn and are destroying that planet now?

Re:Surely (2)

tenaciousj (769989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192230)

Yes, AC. Current evidence leads us to believe that the evidence that a planet once held alien life is the non-existence of water. Ergo, the alien species that once occupied the planet has warmed the planet to such a degree that the atmosphere was destroyed and the water then evaporated into space.

There is almost irrefutable proof that this is exactly what happened on Mars.

Re:Surely (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36196518)

warmed the planet to such a degree that the atmosphere was destroyed and the water then evaporated into space.

Or, as the plot of too many science fiction movies follow, aliens came and stole all the water.

Re:Surely (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36198484)

They did that after the vaporization. Ever seen Spaceballs? They did it like that. Much easier than lugging all those oceans out.

Re:Surely (1)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192122)

we already ruled out the sun as a driver of climate change....

My sarcasm detector is in the shop again, so I must explicitly observe that the sun is, and has always been, the primary driver of climate.

Climate has never needed us to change it, just as species have never needed us to extinct them.

Things like this don't need us, but they are happy to take our help.

Especially at anthropomorphizing themselves - they love our help there.

Re:Surely (1)

tenaciousj (769989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192266)

This was exactly my thought. Instead of wasting all of our time looking for water on planets as a sign of possible life, simply look for greenhouse gases. If there are any advanced super aliens out there, they're planet must be a veritable sauna by now.

Re:Surely (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193030)

Except perhaps those aliens wouldn't have the NIMBYs we have to deal with and would have shifted over to nuclear fission, and possibly even nuclear fusion.

Re:Surely (1)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193578)

I've always been in favour of Dyson sphere [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere]. Surely not a big deal for very advanced species...

Re:Surely (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192028)

We must re-brand catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, er . . . global warming . . . er climate change . . . er climate disruption . . .

It now must be named Solar Systematic Anthropogenic Climactic Onslaught! Save Saturn Now! Tax Everything!

Yawn (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#36194686)

You're about 10 years too late with that "gag". Try a bit harder.

Re:Surely (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 3 years ago | (#36196328)

The "storm" is the result of stupid attempts by Saturnians to limit CO2 emissions with nuclear plants. One of them just blew up.

I wonder if extreme weather is related? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36191960)

Dig in the rock record to see the past. Look to the skies to see the future.

Re:I wonder if extreme weather is related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36194666)

On doomsday, Saturday, we will see Saturn collapse in on itself. On Sunday as the Christians are breathing a sigh of relief, amateur astronomers will notice a new spot has formed, this time on Jupiter.....

In Perspective (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36191974)

When you look at these photos, there is one aspect that is lost due to the size of the planet itself. At 3000 miles wide, this "storm" is about 40% the diameter of the Earth.

Re:In Perspective (2)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192234)

have you also noticed that it looks like a cum shot in the cassini probe: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/12/28/a-saturnian-storm-larger-than-worlds/ [discovermagazine.com]

Dangit, God! I told him to keep it in his pants, but he couldn't contain himself when he saw Saturn.

Re:In Perspective (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192316)

looks like a single sperm cell.

That Cassini probe needs to stop thinking about sexual things all the time....

Re:In Perspective (2)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192984)

Thank God it wasn't on Uranus...

Re:In Perspective (2)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36194096)

That's because fluids are the same, no matter where in the universe you go.

(Now if you were to go to another universe, I can't guarantee the local laws of physics will apply there as well. Which does not bode well for hyperdimensional porn studios.)

Re:In Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36195108)

have you also noticed that it looks like a cum shot in the cassini probe: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/12/28/a-saturnian-storm-larger-than-worlds/ [discovermagazine.com]
Dangit, God! I told him to keep it in his pants, but he couldn't contain himself when he saw Saturn.

Is this, then, the Coming of the Lord?

I thought the Rapture wasn't until Saturday.

Re:In Perspective (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36195276)

he made a pit stop @ Saturn first, he will be here Saturday, I assume by all the billboards.

fossile fuels (-1, Troll)

mrops (927562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192296)

I am surprised skeptics still refute global warning, if we keep burning fossil fuel, next we will see gamma ray bursts from Andromeda

Re:In Perspective (3, Insightful)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192384)

When you look at these photos, there is one aspect that is lost due to the size of the planet itself. At 3000 miles wide, this "storm" is about 40% the diameter of the Earth.

Diameter of the Earth is a nearly meaningless comparison. Not only is the Earth not a perfect sphere, but also most people will have a hard time gauging the spatial reference to something more meaningful, such as "about the size of the entire continent of North America."

Re:In Perspective (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36196294)

Diameter of the Earth is a nearly meaningless comparison. Not only is the Earth not a perfect sphere, but also most people will have a hard time gauging the spatial reference to something more meaningful

Ok. How about 'the storm is the same size as 528000 football fields placed end to end' ?

Re:In Perspective (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36201656)

Diameter of the Earth is a nearly meaningless comparison. Not only is the Earth not a perfect sphere, but also most people will have a hard time gauging the spatial reference to something more meaningful

Ok. How about 'the storm is the same size as 528000 football fields placed end to end' ?

Or how about just saying it's big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think the one that went through Alabama was big, but that's just peanuts to Saturn's, listen...

Re:In Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210842)

Or, it is a storm so big, it would cover a person in both Massachusetts and London?

Re:In Perspective (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36196564)

Maybe you should measure it in terms of "Library of Congress". Maybe Volkswagons. There's always hail. Or some other scientific terms like these.

Re:In Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36197618)

Yeah...that about 1.5% deviation from perfectly spheroidal ... I mean... you're gonna notice that at a distance of about 1.2b kilometers if you get out a pair of calipers...

Re:In Perspective (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36204550)

most people will have a hard time gauging the spatial reference to something more meaningful, such as "about the size of the entire continent of North America."

An SF story of my acquaintance ("Meeting with Medusa"? Here [wikipedia.org] ) has a Jovenaut balloonist comparing the surface area of the Earth spread out on Jupiter as similar to the area of India on the Earth.

I'd have to work out a similar comparison for Saturn ; NA doesn't sound far off though.

Re:In Perspective (2)

onepoint (301486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192560)

if you were to look at this in perspective, the storm seems to be the same size ratio as one on earth.

Re:In Perspective (1)

morikahnx (1323841) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192582)

Its quite beautiful. Doesn't need some cleaver caption trying to one-up the last one. Its wonderful to live in a time when we can witness this.

Re:In Perspective (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192766)

Doesn't need some cleaver caption trying to one-up the last one. Its wonderful to live in a time when we can witness this.

Indeed, we're lucky to be born after the big bang.

Re:In Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192712)

I had to put it in terms I could visualize: the width of this storm is roughly equal to the driving distance from Boston, MA to San Diego, CA.

Re:In Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192994)

I think this is just the top of the storm being sheared off by faster moving winds. Depending on how far down the eye is it could easily swallow the Earth.

Re:In Perspective (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36196962)

At 3000 miles wide, this "storm" is about 40% the diameter of the Earth.

Typhoon Tip was 1380 miles in diameter, so 3000 miles isn't that impressive considering the difference in size between Earth and Saturn.

This is alarming. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192046)

I'm concerned that something similar to this could happen here on Earth, and we would not be able to deal with it. Of course, it would help to bring our population under control.

true sign of the end of the world (0)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192066)

So, maybe it's not just the end of our world, but Saturn as well?

Re:true sign of the end of the world (2)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192300)

It's just the location of Heaven. The lord is giving a good dusting to all the vacant houses there in preparation for tomorrow, hopefully it'll have settled by 6PM.

Re:true sign of the end of the world (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192828)

Exactly. Look at the storm, what color is it? It's white. What else is white? Angels. This is not a storm, this is a gathering of angels to.. well, storm the Earth. They better get moving if they hope to be here tomorrow.

Re:true sign of the end of the world (2)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193404)

I'd prefer to think that it's a gathering cluster of white monoliths!

Re:true sign of the end of the world (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36197024)

If a black monolith makes you smarter and more violent, what does a white monolith do?

Re:true sign of the end of the world (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192720)

Oye, end-timers. Annoyingly resilient to the perpetuated existence of the world.

But honestly, maybe these little crazes are a good thing, society-wise. I mean, it's one of those things that, no matter what you do, someone somewhere is going to look at something and claim the end of the world is nigh. Fact of life.
I remember hearing about some sort of scenario involving the alignment of the planets when I was a kid and, well, I was pretty stupid and got scared. Well maybe "scared" is a bit strong. I was concerned. As concerned as an 9 year old can be about doomsday. And I remember it passing. Nothing happened, and I was honestly a little let down. But I grew up a little then. I realized that the fantastical is simply that; fantasy. And that on some perverse level people want it all to burn and crumble.

I Imagine the Y2K delirium might have gotten more under my skin if that had never happened. In short, I was jaded to the sheer audacity of it all.

So pay attention kiddos, there's an important lesson here.

Re:true sign of the end of the world (1)

Stone2065 (717387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36200050)

In reference to your "crazies in society" line... remember, you need some yeast to make the bread rise... :)

tag article: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192074)

climatechange

Impact? (2)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192196)

How could we know if it was related to some sort of an impact?

Climate change! (3, Funny)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192198)

Look what we've done now, our polluting ways have gone and broken Saturn too. :(

Re:Climate change! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36193044)

Where is Al Gore when you need him?

Re:Climate change! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36193090)

Nah, the Saturnians are just having their Apocalypse a day early, since they're higher up.

Re:Climate change! (1)

Cosmic Lotus (2031994) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193672)

Haa!!!

Re:Climate change! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36196326)

Nope, Jupiter gave Saturn a Dirty Sanchez...!!

Re:Climate change! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36199868)

This is why we can't have nice things. Saturn's going to blow, and its the nicest thing ever.

Space Nutters, unite! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192268)

Time to put down millions of Saturn-rated wind turbines and beam the power back to Earth! No limits! No technological barriers! No energy limits! Space! Yeah!

Saturn has a visible surface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36192272)

That's big news!

Quick! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192308)

Mobilize FEMA. Or they'll miss this one as well.

Obviously, global warming is viral (1)

Zecheus (1072058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36192656)

How long until 'the experts' give us another inconvenient truth?

Re:Obviously, global warming is viral (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193564)

Well, you made sure that it will take longer than the idiots spamming an unrelated topic with their denialist bullshit. Seriously, slashdot. We get some interesting astronomy news and half the posts are climate change trolls. Way to go, folks.

Re:Obviously, global warming is viral (1)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36198630)

...idiots spamming an unrelated topic with their denialist bullshit. ... half the posts are climate change trolls.

Seems to me that your post fits right in there as an exemplary illustration of what it is that you are whining about. People who don't think as you prefer to, they are automatically labeled "idiots", and their personal thoughts/perceptions on the topic are "bullshit", right? And because of this, they are automatically labeled in your mind as "trolls", so you call them out in an insulting and derogatory manner.

Be careful chucking those rocks, what with that glass house you are living in...

Re:Obviously, global warming is viral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36199106)

They're idiots because they have nothing valuable to contribute so they joke around instead. Their thoughts and perspectives aren't "on the topic" at all, which makes for bullshit. I don't think they're trolls, I think you are.

Industrial Age (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193314)

Obviously Saturn has reached it's industrial age, and we are seeing the plume from their smokestacks. Beware our future giant planet steampunk overlords.

What's the common denominator? (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193470)

Raging storms on earth, the reappearance of the Jupiter Southern Equatorial belt with more storms than normal and now Saturn. Seriously, what are we missing?

Re:What's the common denominator? (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193528)

Appreciation of the concept of coincidence? ;)

Re:What's the common denominator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36193844)

The solar cycle?

Obvious - the rapture (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 3 years ago | (#36194088)

Raging storms on earth, the reappearance of the Jupiter Southern Equatorial belt with more storms than normal and now Saturn. Seriously, what are we missing?

The Rapture must start at the outer planets and work its way inward

Ragnarok (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36193502)

It's just Odin traversing the solar system on his way to Earth for Ragnarok tomorrow.

Martian Astronomers? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36193768)

"amateur astronomers here on Earth" I didn't know we had amateur astronomers elsewhere. I suppose the folks up on the space station, but I wouldn't count them as amateurs even if their background isn't astronomy...

My God! (1)

MJMullinII (1232636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36194330)

It's full of stars!

Damn... (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36195420)

3000 mile, 5000 kilometer, 8000 pixel...

We must stop the Saturnians before their power becomes over nine thousand.

When did Saturn get a surface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36203062)

That would be much more newsworthy than any weather pattern. Oh, wait, the article doesn't mention anything about a "surface" (because it's NASA) so we can only assume it's the work of an ignorant submitter or editor.
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