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Cassini Spacecraft Captures Devastatingly Beautiful Hurricane on Saturn

by Brandon Russell | April 29, 2013April 29, 2013 10:00 pm PST

Hurricane captured on Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft.

The above photo isn’t a world imploding in the Star Trek universe, but an actual hurricane currently ravaging Saturn’s north pole. It looks breathtakingly surreal, beautiful, something imagined you’d expect in a scene from the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It’s absolutely real, though, and the storm’s eye is an incredible 1,250 miles across—half of Australia—with winds topping 330 miles per hour.

Captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft using a narrow-angle camera, the image is a false-color by way of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light, NASA explained. This is actually among the first images captured by Cassini of Saturn’s North Pole in sunlight; the spacecraft arrived at the ringed planet’s north pole back in 2004, which has been shrouded in darkness until recently. Because Cassini was unable to snap a picture until last year, it’s unknown how long the devilish hurricane has been active.

Cassini snapped the photo from approximately 261,000 miles from Saturn; scale equals one mile per pixel, NASA said. It’s amazing researchers were able to capture such a photo at all, let alone one so mesmerizing.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.