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Thread: Discussion: Cassini Sees Merging Storms On Saturn

  1. #1
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    SUMMARY: NASA's Cassini spacecraft continues its approach to Saturn, and its latest images show incredible detail of two storms in the act of merging. The storms were both at least 1,000 km wide, and they were moving westward across the surface of the planet, relative to its rotation. After about a month of dancing, the storms actually merged on March 19-20, and the new storm now sits almost stationary on the surface of the planet. Saturn is the windiest planet in the Solar System, and the reason for these winds is one of the mysteries that scientists hope to solve with Cassini.

    What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

  2. #2
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    That's cool. I always thought that the planet jupiter is the most windiest planet in hte solar system, but now its Saturn :huh:
    Most of the wind was create by Heat, I think on Saturn, once the surface temperature heating up (dense enough) the liquid and soon created giant windstorm..

  3. #3
    Planetwatcher Guest
    And I thought Neptune was the windiest planet in the Solar System.

  4. #4
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    That's one of the most interesting facts that are unexplained; no matter where a planet orbits the Sun and no matter how much heat is received from the Sun, all planets (except Mercury) have strong winds (weather). Almost as if a different mechanism is responsible for the weather, irrespective of planet size, distance from the Sun or atmospheric composition.

    Cheers.

  5. #5
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    Thats cool but is Cassini going to land on the planet. :huh:

  6. #6
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    Cassini can't land on Saturn, as it is a gas giant, but I'd imagine that it'll do a few laps of it, taking measurements and so forth. And the Huygens probe will land on Titan.

  7. #7
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    Will this storm be like a new spot on the planet or not

  8. #8
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    Almost as if a different mechanism is responsible for the weather
    I'd say that if you have a gaseous atmosphere combined with planetary rotation to produce unequal warming of the atmosphere, you're going to get movement in the atmosphere therefore "weather".

    I don't think it's any more mysterious than the solar system's creation i.e. a rotating cloud of debris forming clumps in one plane (its plane of rotation) rather than in three dimensions.

  9. #9
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    If it was as simple as that Sp1ke, we would have a good weather forecast long ago. But I was referring to the notion that "global changes" seem to be happening all over the solar system at this moment. So that could mean (very maybe) that all the changes are perhaps connected. And from that I concluded that it seems the weather could be more strongly correlated to the Sun's activity than previously thought (here on Earth we are deemed the culprits for global warming). Hope this makes sense.

    Cheers.

  10. #10
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    Well, VanderL, although the mechanisms for producing weather might be simple that doesn't mean that forecasting the future conditions is simple .

    But I'd missed your point about system-wide weather changes. Is that right? Are there changes in other planets' weather patterns that are particularly unusual and have some similarity to what's happening here?

    I don't think we're altogether clear on whether the changes on earth are significant so it's got to be difficult to correlate changes on, say, Jupiter or Mars to global warming, a new ice age, polarity reversal or whatever.

    My simplistic view would be that all planets will go through periods of greater or lesser weather activity. This could be linked to the sun's output since that is the primary source of heat in most cases. But the complexity of these systems does not seem to me to need some more direct connection between the sun and each/all planets.

    *But* it's an interesting idea that I can't reject. I do think that climate changes on earth could have many causes and we have such a short-term record of them that it's easy to be alarmist. But OTOH, it wouldn't do any harm to reduce the impact we have on our surroundings just in case. Pollution and resource exploitation are more likely to do harm than good.

  11. #11
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    But I'd missed your point about system-wide weather changes. Is that right? Are there changes in other planets' weather patterns that are particularly unusual and have some similarity to what's happening here?
    Yes Spike that's exactly what I was saying. There are several indications that a number of planets (and some moons) are going through unexpected activity of weather. This was already in another thread (forgot which one, I thought it was part of this topic, sorry for my vague previous post).

    Jupiter's patterns are changing dramatically, Neptune showed signs of heating up despite it's orbit on the way towards "winter". Pluto's atmosphere has also heated up with no clear cause. I don't have references, but it looks as if planetary weather is becoming more active, while heating effects by the Sun are unlikely. Of course there are only scraps of evidence here and there, but I would be interested if a correlation can be found and what this would mean for our understanding of how weather is influenced.
    Another thing, very strong winds can be found at all planet's upper atmospheres. The wind speed that is detected is very high (hundreds of miles an hour) regardless of the planet's distance to the Sun. If solar heat and rotation of the planet are assumed to be the only energy source for these windspeeds, I would expect the winds to be much lower on the outer planets. No such thing though, I wonder why.

    Cheers.

  12. #12
    albert madrid Guest
    (This has no place here)

  13. #13
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    (This has no place here)
    Where did it belong then?

    Cheers.

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by VanderL@Apr 29 2004, 10:36 PM

    Jupiter's patterns are changing dramatically, Neptune showed signs of heating up despite it's orbit on the way towards "winter". Pluto's atmosphere has also heated up with no clear cause. I don't have references, but it looks as if planetary weather is becoming more active, while heating effects by the Sun are unlikely. Of course there are only scraps of evidence here and there, but I would be interested if a correlation can be found and what this would mean for our understanding of how weather is influenced.

    As I was reading the postings in this thread I was remembering having read about the changes in the atmospheres of several planets in the Solar System & was going to comment on them - but when I reached your post, VanderL, I saw that you had beaten me to the mark - by more than a week!!!

  15. #15
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    I feel a little deja-vue here. Didn't we have this conversation earlier VanderL?

    Personally, I think the sun could be the sole cause of heating throughout the solar system--in fact, I think it would be the only cause. There is no way that the weather of Jupiter could be influenced by the weather on Neptune, Mars or Pluto, or vice-versa. The sun, on the other hand, could easily influence all of the planets.

    It is also the case that the giant planets give off more heat than they recieve from the sun, Jupiter especially. I don't know if that is the cause of the high speed upper winds or not, but I'm betting that plays a part of it.

  16. #16
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    It is also the case that the giant planets give off more heat than they recieve from the sun, Jupiter especially. I don't know if that is the cause of the high speed upper winds or not, but I'm betting that plays a part of it.
    I would be very surprised if internal heating causes strong winds in the upper atmosphere, and the point I wanted to make was that those winds exist everywhere in the solar system regardless of solar heat. So the mechanism is not heating, imo, but it must surely be solar activity.

    And Spacemad, happy to oblige,

    Cheers.

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