If you look at the latest images of Uranus, you can often spot round spots at the planet’s poles that are somewhat reminiscent of reflections of light. Scientists have long assumed that these are in fact eddies attesting to a relatively dynamic atmosphere. Now, for the first time, a team led by Alex Akins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California has discovered strong evidence that that a stationary cyclonic storm could rage over the planet’s north pole, with warm, dry air gathering in the center.
The group used the radio antennas of the Very Large Array in New Mexico to look under the ice giant’s cloud cover. In their observations, the researchers also took advantage of the fact that Uranus could have been better seen from Earth for several years: the planet takes 84 years to circle the Sun once, and its poles have long been away from our planet. planet.
With warm, dry air at its core, the storm at Uranus’ north pole is similar to the one seen by the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn’s south pole. Unlike tropical cyclones on Earth, storms on Uranus and Saturn do not form over the sea; No water has yet been found on either planet. In addition, they do not move across the landscape, but remain permanently over the poles.
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