A team of astrophysicists at the University of the Basque Country has detected, for the first time ever, changes in Saturn’s winds. The research has merited front page coverage in the scientific magazine, Nature.
The winds blowing around Saturn and Jupiter are special. Unlike those of the rest of the planets, these move in an eastwards direction and are ten times stronger than the earth’s winds. On our planet it is solar radiation which governs the winds, but on the distant planets it is believed that there is another energy source, although astrophysicists have not identified it as yet. According to some theories, the wind originates in the centre of the planet and brings with it heat from there.
The tem of astrophysicists at the University of the Basque Country (EHU), together with another from Wellesley College in Massachussets, have analysed the images provide by the Hubble telescope in order to understand the behaviour of Saturn’s winds. During the analysis, an unexpected discovery was made – the velocity of the winds from 1996 to 2002 turned out to be half of that in the 1980-81 period. Agustin Sanchez-Lavega, Santiago Perez-Hoyos, Jose Felix Rojas and Ricardo Hueso have taken part in this research, amongst others. .
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