Scientists are excitedly talking about new findings from space of a storm on Saturn, the hottest ever recorded, that was viewed from NASA's Cassini aircraft. (Photo : Reuters)
What is described as a planetary "Burp" on Saturn has given excited scientists a view at possibly the largest and hottest vortex ever seen in the solar system, according to new research.
Footage from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, taken in December 2010, showed that a storm on the ringed planet Saturn sent temperatures in the planet's atmosphere shooting up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
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To put it in perspective, NASA told the Los Angeles Times, the storm was similar to what would be a violent storm large enough to cover all of North America and continue onward around the planet-for nine months.
"It's a very exciting thing ... a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Brigette Hesman, a scientist at University of Maryland and the Goddard Spaceflight Center who studies storms on Saturn, told the Times of the storm she referred to as "the burp."
"The reason we call it the burp is, essentially, the storm erupted from below and all this energy moved into the stratosphere," she said.
Hesman was the lead author on a team that studied the storm and will have their findings published in the Nov. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
"This temperature spike is so extreme it's almost unbelievable, especially in this part of Saturn's atmosphere, which typically is very stable," Hesman wrote in her report, according to CBS News.
"To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you'd be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert," she added in her report.
This storm ,which released tons of energy into Saturn's atmosphere, was one of the planet's Great White Spots, which appear roughly every 30 Earth years. This particular storm surrounded the planet by late January 2011, and reached out as far as 9,000 miles before scientists saw the storm ebbing in late June 2011.
According to Wired.com, the storm was the largest recorded storm since 1903.
Video of the planetary burp, in Hesman's words, can be seen on NASA's YouTube page here.