Saturn Hurricane Photographed By Nasa Cassini Spacecraft 'Bigger Than Australia' (PICTURES)


Hurricane Sandy killed 285 people, devastated most of America's east coast and caused $75 billion of damage in just nine days last year.

Now imagine a storm 20 times the size, winds twice as fast and instead of days it lasts for years.

This is what has been pictured in frankly armageddon-esque detail by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft.

The reds represent low clouds and the green shows clouds higher up in the atmosphere

The eye of the storm is 1,250 miles across surrounded by clouds bigger than the whole of the UK at the centre of a hexagonal weather pattern bigger than two Earths.

Despite the differences Nasa scientists will study the hurricane to gain insights into how ones closer to home form. Terrestrial hurricanes feed off warm ocean air yet the one on Saturn appears may be being sustained by something else.

Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: "We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth."

"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."

Another difference is movement. Here hurricanes will drift northwards due the effect of the Earth's rotation on the fast winds. Eventually they lose strength as the storm passes over land and can no longer feed of the ocean.

On Saturn however the storm has gone as far as it can go.

Kunio Sayanagi, another member of the Cassini team, said: "The polar hurricane has nowhere else to go, and that's likely why it's stuck at the pole."

The storm was first pictured by Cassini in 2004 but scientists have had to wait until sunlight finally hit the north pole before they could get such detail.

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