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Posts Tagged ‘storms’

NASA Probe Gets Close-Up Views Of Large Hurricane On Saturn


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole.

In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists see the hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Thin, bright clouds at the outer edge of the hurricane are traveling 330 mph(150 meters per second). The hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon.

“We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn’s hydrogen atmosphere.”

Scientists will be studying the hurricane to gain insight into hurricanes on Earth, which feed off warm ocean water. Although there is no body of water close to these clouds high in Saturn’s atmosphere, learning how these Saturnian storms use water vapor could tell scientists more about how terrestrial hurricanes are generated and sustained.

Full Story and Images: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-149#

NASA’s Cassini Watches Storm Choke On Its Own Tail

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University

Call it a Saturnian version of the Ouroboros, the mythical serpent that bites its own tail. In a new paper that provides the most detail yet about the life and death of a monstrous thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn, scientists from NASA’s Cassini mission describe how the massive storm churned around the planet until it encountered its own tail and sputtered out. It is the first time scientists have observed a storm consume itself in this way anywhere in the solar system.

“This Saturn storm behaved like a terrestrial hurricane – but with a twist unique to Saturn,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, who is a co-author on the new paper in the journal Icarus. “Even the giant storms at Jupiter don’t consume themselves like this, which goes to show that nature can play many awe-inspiring variations on a theme and surprise us again and again.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-040#2

Solar ‘Climate Change’ Could Cause Rougher Space Weather

March 29, 2012 1 comment

Recent research shows that the space age has coincided with a period of unusually high solar activity, called a grand maximum. Isotopes in ice sheets and tree rings tell us that this grand solar maximum is one of 24 during the last 9300 years and suggest the high levels of solar magnetic field seen over the space age will reduce in future. This decline will cause a reduction in sunspot numbers and explosive solar events, but those events that do take place could be more damaging. Graduate student Luke Barnard of the University of Reading will present new results on ‘solar climate change’ in his paper at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester.

The level of radiation in the space environment is of great interest to scientists and engineers as it poses various threats to man-made systems including damage to electronics on satellites. It can also be a health hazard to astronauts and to a lesser extent the crew of high-altitude aircraft.

The main sources of radiation are galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), which are a continuous flow of highly energetic particles from outside our solar system and solar energetic particles (SEPs), which are accelerated to high energies in short bursts by explosive events on the sun. The amount of radiation in the near-Earth environment from these two sources is partly controlled in a complicated way by the strength of the Sun’s magnetic field.

There are theoretical predictions supported by observational evidence that a decline in the average strength of the Sun’s magnetic field would lead to an increase in the amount of GCRs reaching near-Earth space. Furthermore there are predictions that, although a decline in solar activity would mean less frequent bursts of SEPs, the bursts that do occur would be larger and more harmful.

Full Story: http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/meetings/nam2012/pressreleases/nam12.html

New Images of Solar Wind As It Impacts Earth

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

CME Impacting WIND Spacecraft

Courtesy SwRI/NASA

Using data collected by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft, researchers at Southwest Research Institute and the National Solar Observatory have developed the first detailed images of solar wind structures as plasma and other particles from a coronal mass ejection (CME) traveled 93 million miles and impacted Earth.

Full Story: http://swri.org/9what/releases/2011/solarwind.htm

NASA Data And New Techniques Yield Detailed Views Of Solar Storms

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA spacecraft observations and new data processing techniques are giving scientists better insight into the evolution and development of solar storms that can damage satellites, disrupt communications and cause power grid failures on Earth.

 

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_11-270_STEREO_Data.html

NASA Hosts News Briefing About Tracking Space Weather Events

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

 

NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, Aug. 18, to discuss new details about the structure of solar storms and the impact they have on Earth. The new information comes from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, spacecraft and other NASA probes.

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_M11-170_Solar_Show.html