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Saturn Vortex on Titan's South Pole Discovered; 'Never Seen at This Level Before' (PHOTO)

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By Daniel Blake , Christian Post Contributor
July 12, 2012|8:12 am

NASA has identified a strange vortex swirling above the south pole of Saturn's moon, Titan, which it is believed indicates winter could be arriving in the southern region.

This true color image captured by NASA'S Cassini spacecraft before a distant flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on June 27, 2012, shows a south polar vortex, or a mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This true color image captured by NASA'S Cassini spacecraft before a distant flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on June 27, 2012, shows a south polar vortex, or a mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon.

The vortex was captured by NASA's Cassini probe on June 27 as it was conducting a fly by near Titan.

Tony Del Genio, a Cassini team member at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said in a statement, "The structure inside the vortex is reminiscent of the open cellular convection that is often seen over Earth's oceans."

According to readers the huge vortex takes about nine hours to go through a complete rotation, compared with Titan's, which takes 16 days to fully rotate.

Del Genio said, "But unlike on Earth, where such layers are just above the surface, this one is at very high altitude, maybe a response of Titan's stratosphere to seasonal cooling as southern winter approaches. But so soon in the game, we're not sure."

Researchers have said that polar vortices are not uncommon in our solar system, and the amazing sights have already been observed on Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Venus, and even Earth.

NASA's probe first arrived in the Saturn system in 2004 at which point it discovered a huge vortex above Titan's north pole. It was observed that it was winter at the north of Saturn until 2009 when spring entered the region. It has been fall in the southern regions until now, but the new vortex, it is claimed, could show signs that winter is on the horizon.

Christophe Sotin, a VIMS team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif has said, "VIMS has seen a concentration of aerosols forming about 200 miles above the surface of Titan's south pole. We've never seen aerosols here at this level before, so we know this is something new," according to Space.com.

Titan is 3,200 miles wide and is just one of 62 moons for Saturn, many of which have only been discovered over recent years.

 

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