Researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU), watched the cyclone passing on Saturn for more than five years. This fact suggests that it is the longest of the cyclone, which was once found on any of the giant planets of the Solar System. Images taken space probe Cassini, were used in the implementation of the study.
"Cyclones, where the wind is blowing in the same direction as the planet rotates, usually does not last for a long time, so it was incredibly exciting for us to watch a cyclone on Saturn, which lasted several years," - said Teresa del Rio Gaztelurrutia (Teresa Rio -Gaztelurrutia), lead author of the analysis of the Group’s research and Planetary Sciences at the UPV / EHU.
The research team began its surveillance of the cyclone in 2004, at a time when the spacecraft Cassini (Space Agency NASA-ESA in Italy) was launched in order to send the finished pictures of the planet Saturn. The scientists were able to confirm the unprecedented length of this huge cyclone equal largest continent of Europe, held in the period between 2004 and 2009. The diameter of the vortex (the circulation of the vortex oval) exceeded 4,000 kilometers.
"Our observations allow us to conclude that this cyclone the longest of all that we have ever seen on the giant planets of the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn" - the researchers said, noting that "they still know very little about these types of structures . "
However, the research group was able to analyze the horizontal morphology of the cyclone, the vertical structure of its clouds and its dynamics, as well as a model for the internal circulation of the cyclone and its interaction with external winds, using mathematical modeling. The results were published recently in the journal Icarus.
Measure the internal winds whirl is not easy, because of the lack of contrast in your images, but the researchers were able to identify that they are "not very intense" in comparison with the movement of the cyclone. Colossal tornado moves at a speed of 245 km / h, which stretches for a strong jet stream, while the maximum speed of the winds around its edge is 72 km / h
"Another reason that attracted our attention was the visual display, which is very reminiscent of the Great Dark Spot on Neptune, which is similar to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter anticyclone" - said Teresa Rio Gaztelurrutia. In anticyclones, the winds turn against the direction of planetary rotation, and more stable, meaning that their vortices last much longer than conventional cyclones on the giant planets.
Compared with large and long-lasting anticyclones on Jupiter, the cyclone on Saturn has a weak circulation, with properties matching their immediate environment.
Scientists eagerly await the data in 2010, so they can learn how to develop a cyclone in the past year. For the latest information were made in 2009, as NASA takes pictures with the Cassini probe with a time interval of one year. Only our informers tell the news on the latest news.