The image above actually uses false coloring to show detail, but here is what it depicts: a massive hurricane on Saturn that is 2,000 kilometers (or about 1,250n miles) across. Scientists are also estimating that the hurricane’s winds are reaching a blustery 330mph.
The image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft and released by NASA.
While this is one violent storm, scientists were actually the most surprised by how much the hurricane seems to resemble one on Earth.
“We did a double take when we saw this vortex,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team.
As Cassini’s Carolyn Porco wrote in an email:
One of the most gorgeous sights we have been privileged to see at Saturn, as the arrival of spring to the northern hemisphere has peeled away the darkness of winter, has been the enormous swirling vortex capping its north pole and ringed by Saturn’s famed hexagonal jet stream.
Today, the Cassini Imaging Team is proud to present to you a set of special views of this phenomenal structure, including a carefully prepared movie showing its circumpolar winds that clock at 330 miles per hour, and false color images that are at once spectacular and informative.
(Red indicates clouds at lower altitudes, with green representing higher altitude)
For more information and images, click here.