Super storm seen surrounding Saturn

7:19 PM, Oct 25, 2012   |    comments
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Storms don't come any bigger than one seen on Saturn, reports the international Cassini spacecraft team.

A once-every-three-decades storm, first spotted on the ringed planet in 2010, eventually wrapped around the giant planet, the team reports in new journal studies.

The studies, one in the journal Icarus led by Leigh Fletcher from the University of Oxford and the other in the Astrophysical Journal led by Brigette Hesman of the University of Maryland, look at infrared images of Saturn's clouds.

Temperatures jumped 150 degrees Fahrenheit in the storm's clouds, they find, and there was a surprising and inexplicable spike in ethylene gas, 100 times higher than previously thought possible, according to Hesman.

"We've really never been able to see ethylene on Saturn before, so this was a complete surprise," said Cassini scientist Michael Flasar of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in a NASA statement.

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY


Gannett/USA Today

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