It’s 800 times bigger than the surface area of the Earth, covers 4 billion square kilometres, and is so long it has etched a planet-wide scar around Saturn’s Northern Hemisphere.
The unnamed storm, pictured, was first discovered on December 5 2010 by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Images from the spacecraft show a massive disruption being produced by the storm and even shows the storm’s head catching up with its tail as it circles the planet.
According to Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the imaging team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Saturn has entered a violent stage in its weather patterns, “Saturn is not like Earth and Jupiter, where storms are fairly frequent. Weather on Saturn appears to hum along placidly for years and then erupt violently. I’m excited we saw weather so spectacular on our watch.”
This is the most intense storm seen on the planet since the mission began and is 500 times larger than the previous record holder. Cassini is recording over 10 lightening strikes a second on the planet and the storm is so intense the satellite has been struggling to record each individual strike, despite its millisecond resolution.
To fully record the event, NASA crowdsourced the storm observation by asking amateur astronomers to photograph the storm to help the Agency chart its growth while they analysed the initial images from Cassini.
Via: Bad Astronomy