Saturn experiences year-long monster storms, in every 20 to 30 year cycles, a new study has revealed.
The storm system erupted around one year back and starting as a small atmospheric spot, it completely wrapped around Saturn’s northern hemisphere like a Boa constrictor, blanketing one-fifth of the northern hemisphere within a month.
For the past year the Saturn-circling NASA Cassini spacecraft has chronicled the storm’s chaos. Cassini''s cameras have kept a close-up eye on a sinuous, churning, and roiling atmosphere, Discovery News reported.
For the first half of 2011, Cassini’s radio and plasma wave instruments detected super-lighting erupting in what must be towering thunderheads at the planet’s cloud tops.
The Zeus-class thunderbolts died away by mid-2011, but the turbulent clouds still loiter in the atmosphere with swirling waves, vortices, and eddy.
Give the large distance between the ringed planet and the sun, whatever is driving the storm must be coming from deep within Saturn.
Years before Cassini was launched, the Hubble Space Telescope captured a similar outburst in 1993, but it died out after 55 days. Other white storms were observed in 1960, 1933, 1903, and 1876. The 1903 storm lasted 155 days and was the record-holder till date.