Cassini’s penultimate encounter with Saturn’s moon Dione is slated for June 16th.
‘Massive’ does not even begin to describe these cyclones.
Thus, the scientists claimed that the thunderstorms on Saturn’s surface would drive epic polar cyclones in the future. Imagine a F5 tornado the size of Earth.
Saturn is prone to continual disturbance and cyclones and swirling dust. Now, new research has revealed that multiple small thunderstorms are to blame. Jupiter does not seem to have polar cyclones like Saturn’s, but Jupiter isn’t tipped over as much as Saturn, so we do not get a good view of the poles. Several studies have been previously conducted to figure out what causes these storms and why do they persist for so long.
In order to test their idea, MIT researchers designed a computerized model that provided them with a simulation of what may have happened in the planet’s atmosphere over the course of ages.
The team developed a model of Saturn’s atmosphere and replicated multiple small and short-lived cyclones across the planet. These individual thunderstorms can gather together enough energy that could produce much larger cyclones.
But, not every thunderstorm helped create a cyclone.
Furthermore, the scientists have been capable of uncover that the tendency for cyclone to outcome relies upon largely on the dimensions of the planet in relation to the dimensions of the thunderstorm generated inside it, in addition to the atmospheric power created by storm.
Actually, lead study author Morgan O’Neill (of MIT) says, “There’s no surface at all – it just gets denser as you get deeper”.
Before it was observed, we never considered the possibility of a cyclone on a pole”,
said O’Neill. “Only recently did Cassini give United States this huge wealth of observations that made it possible, and only recently did we have to think about why polar cyclones occur”.
How do the thunderstorms get to the poles?
On earth, cyclones form as a result of the ocean’s moisture.
The team ran hundreds of simulations for hundreds of days each, and found that beta drift allowed the thunderstorms to build up enough air circulation to trigger a large cyclone. Beta drifting is a phenomenon also observed with Earth hurricanes. This mechanism allows for small, fast, abundant, thunderstorms that aren’t very strong to accumulate a great deal of angular momentum right on the pole, over a long period of time.
Cassini’s previous discoveries are giving scientists plenty to work with, but what about now? The storms, first photographed by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, have always been a mystery.
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