Massive storm on Saturn shoots ice into the atmosphere
Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 5:25 -
A huge storm exploded on Saturn in 2010, propelling water ice from deep inside the planet into the atmosphere, according to a new paper published by NASA researchers.
The finding was derived from images taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Researchers say it is the first indication of water ice on Saturn.
"The new finding from Cassini shows that Saturn can dredge up material from more than 160 kilometers," said Kevin Baines, a co-author of the paper, in a statement.
"It demonstrates in a very real sense that typically demure-looking Saturn can be just as explosive or even more so than typically stormy Jupiter."
This particular storm was first detected on December 5, 2010. NASA says it quickly grew into a "superstorm", moving across the planet for nearly 300,000 km before dissipating.
It was stronger than anything ever seen on Earth, with wind speeds up to 500 kph.
"We think this huge thunderstorm is driving these cloud particles upward, sort of like a volcano bringing up material from the depths and making it visible from outside the atmosphere,” says study lead Lawrence Sromovsky.
More details on the paper can be found on the NASA website.