Home Science Space Saturn's north pole swirls giant cyclone
Saturn's north pole swirls giant cyclone Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Featured

An image taken from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a giant cyclone swirling above the north pole of the planet Saturn.

The Cassini spacecraft took the image on November 27, 2012, as it completes its Cassini Solstice Mission, which was begun in February 2010 and extends into the year 2017.

Actually, the spacecraft has found other cyclones also swirling above Saturn's south pole. Both are the result of powerful storm patterns, similar to the ones we have here on Earth.

The cyclone at Saturn's north pole is rotating at speeds from 325 miles (500 kilometers) per hour to 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) per hour, which are many times faster than the highest cyclonic winds on Earth.

A larger image of the cyclone is found in the Discovery News article Deep Inside Saturn's Stormy Eye: Big Pic.

The image of the cyclone above Saturn is compliments of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the Space Science Institute (SSI).

These are very massive cyclones, hundreds of times larger than the most giant hurricanes on Earth.

Giant thunderstorms are found below these cyclones on Saturn, with giant weather systems at the core of their existence. 

Check out the video of a giant cyclone on Saturn in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory article "Infrared Movie of Saturn’s North Polar Region". Click on the "GIF no audio" to start the video.

The article begins with, "This near-infrared movie of Saturn’s north pole shows a giant cyclone, encircled by a hexagon feature. The movie was created from several images, taken by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer onboard the Cassini spacecraft."


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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University