Mystery Vortex Saturn Titan

Mystery Vortex Saturn Titan - A 200-mile high pillar of cloud has boiled up out of the foggy atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

Nasa scientists are puzzling over the orbiting Cassini probe's images of the 'vortex' at the moon's south pole.

The find could offer an insight into the moon's mysterious atmosphere, where seasons last for seven years, and 300-foot dunes of frozen chemicals roll across the surface of the planet.

The formation seen at the pole is similar to ones seen over Earth's oceans, say Nasa team members.

Tony Del Genio, says, ‘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.’

Images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft show a concentration of high-altitude haze and a vortex materializing at the south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, signs that the seasons are turning on Saturn’s largest moon.

Recent gravity measurements showed Titan may have an ocean beneath the surface - the ocean is thought to be made of water with a depth of a couple of hundred kilometres.

It appears to cover the entire moon beneath 100 kilometres of ice.

Cassini first saw a ‘hood’ of high-altitude haze and a vortex, which is a mass of swirling gas around the pole in the moon’s atmosphere, at Titan’s north pole when the spacecraft first arrived in the Saturn system in 2004.

At the time, it was northern winter. Multiple instruments have been keeping an eye on the Titan atmosphere above the south pole for signs of the coming southern winter.

‘We have seen a concentration of aerosols forming about 200 miles above the surface of Titan’s south pole,’ said Christophe Sotin, a VIMS team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. ‘We’ve never seen aerosols here at this level before, so we know this is something new.’

During a June 27 distant flyby, Cassini’s imaging cameras captured a crow’s-eye view of the south polar vortex in visible light. These new images show this detached, high- altitude haze layer in stunning new detail.

‘Future observations of this feature will provide good tests of dynamical models of the Titan circulation, chemistry, cloud and aerosol processes in the upper atmosphere,’ said Bob West, deputy imaging team lead at JPL. Gas clouds over titan reveal changing seasons on saturn's moon, Saturn Vortex Titan

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