Video Transcript: Saturn's Cyclones

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We've always thought of Saturn being this serene body -- it looks like a pearl in the sky with different hues to it due to different kinds of clouds.

What we're seeing is that if you go through those hazes and get down to the depths of Saturn, you find a roiling  atmosphere and a cyclone is probably one of manifestation of this dramatic dynamics.

We did realize that there was a cyclone on the south pole a year ago. What was a surprise was we see essentially the same type of a feature in the north pole. The north pole has a hexagon around it.

You know, these cyclones on Saturn are huge. You can fit at least one Earth in one case and two Earths in another case inside these things. And they have powerful winds near the center, about 300 miles an hour. So in a lot of ways, these are the most powerful cyclones ever seen.

Both Earth and Saturn work on the same laws of physics. But the Earth has this vast reservoir called an ocean, which can take up heat and absorb it from the Sun and then release it, in a sense, under the right conditions, to create a hurricane.

On Saturn, we have internal heat deep down and it's being powered by processes that are happening deep in the atmosphere of Saturn.

What it shows us is that there are some bizarre physics going on, on Saturn. That it's drawing large amounts of energy from inside of Saturn to power these storms. We're talking again about a storm system that's about 20,000 kilometers across , or even larger, and so that's a gigantic storm system.

So it's the largest storm system of this type we've seen anywhere in the solar system and now we've seen two of them at both poles.  It shows us that Saturn is special and we should keep studying it.


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