Feeds

LARGEST BELCH EVER SEEN devastates gassy GIANT Saturn

Colossal ethylene eructation 'bigger than Earth'

Security for virtualized datacentres

A titanic storm wracking the atmosphere of Saturn, ringed giant planet of the outer Solar System, resulted in an "unprecedented belch of energy" and an associated super-enormous emission of ethylene gas "the origin of which is a mystery", according to NASA boffins.

"This temperature spike is so extreme it's almost unbelievable, especially in this part of Saturn's atmosphere, which typically is very stable," explains Brigette Hesman, top NASA brainbox. "To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you'd be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska [for our UK readers - that is very cold indeed] to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert [jolly hot]."

However that last shouldn't be taken literally, as the peak temperature was only 220 Kelvin (minus 53°C or 63°F). This is positively baking, however, for the chilly outer solar system.

A NASA statement just issued succinctly sums up the analysis by Hesman and other scientists of the latest data from the space probe Cassini, in orbit around Saturn:

NASA's Cassini Sees Burp at Saturn After Large Storm

The storm in question is suitably brobdingnagian in scale:

First detected by Cassini in Saturn's northern hemisphere on Dec 5, 2010, the storm grew so large that an equivalent storm on Earth would blanket most of North America from north to south and wrap around our planet many times. This type of giant disturbance on Saturn typically occurs every 30 Earth years, or once every Saturn year.

The epic, many-times-big-enough-to-cover-the-whole-Earth megastorm gave rise to a mighty heat pulse, which imaged in infrared false colour by Cassini showed a "white spot" on Saturn fit to rival the famous Red Spot storm on Jupiter, biggest planet of the solar system.

It has now emerged, according to the latest analysis, that the storm also caused a vast eruption of the (odourless) gas ethylene.

"We've really never been able to see ethylene on Saturn before, so this was a complete surprise," said Michael Flasar, a NASA colleague of Hesman's.

The discoveries have given rise to a volley of scientific papers, some published and some awaiting publication. Full details are available from NASA here and here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.