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Saturns Speedy Spin Sparks Spectacular Storms

Streamers, swirls and one giant vortex roll across the dynamic face of Saturn. Catalogue image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Apr 17, 2006
Gaseous Saturn rotates quickly - about once every 11 hours - and its horizontal cloud bands rotate at different rates relative to each other. These conditions can cause the turbulent features in the atmosphere to become greatly stretched and sheared, creating the beautiful patterns.

The turbulence and shear are particularly notable at boundaries where the different bands slide past one another.

Vortices like the one seen in this image are long-lived dynamical features that are part of the general circulation of Saturn's atmosphere. They are counterparts to the east-west flowing jets and can last for months or years. They probably grow by merging with other vortices until a few dominate a particular shear zone between two jets.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured the image in polarized infrared light with its narrow-angle camera on March 7 at a distance of approximately 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 17 kilometers (10 miles) per pixel.

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Cassini Controllers Overcome Software Glitch
Pasadena CA (SPX) Apr 17, 2006
NASA mission controllers said Friday that Cassini remains in "an excellent state of health and is operating normally" although they did encounter a serious software problem last week that required a bit of jury-rigging with the Saturn spacecraft's software.

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