Saturn Storm

Photojournal: PIA01464

December 16, 2004

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the ringed planet Saturn shows a
rare storm that appears as a white arrowhead-shaped feature near the
planet's equator. The storm is generated by an upwelling of warmer air,
similar to a terrestrial thunderhead. The east-west extent of this storm
is equal to the diameter of the Earth (about 12,700 kilometers or 7,900
miles). Saturn's prevailing winds are shown as a dark 'wedge' that eats
into the western (left) side of the bright central cloud. The planet's
strongest eastward winds are at the latitude of the wedge. To the north
of this arrowhead-shaped feature, the winds decrease so that the storm
center is moving eastward relative to the local flow. The storm's white
clouds are ammonia ice crystals that form when an upward flow of warmer
gases shoves its way through Saturn's frigid cloud tops to even colder
levels.


For higher resolution, click TARGET="new">here.

ENLARGE