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An Enduring Rapidly Moving Storm as a Guide to Saturn's Equatorial Jet's Complex StructureSaturn has an intense and broad eastward equatorial jet with a complex three-dimensional structure mixed with time variability. The equatorial region experiences strong seasonal insolation variations enhanced by ring shadowing, and three of the six known giant planetary-scale storms have developed in it. These factors make Saturn's equator a natural laboratory to test models of jets in giant planets. Here we report on a bright equatorial atmospheric feature imaged in 2015 that moved steadily at a high speed of 450/ms not measured since 1980-1981 with other equatorial clouds moving within an ample range of velocities. Radiative transfer models show that these motions occur at three altitude levels within the upper haze and clouds. We find that the peak of the jet (latitudes 10degN to 10degS) suffers intense vertical shears reaching + 2.5/ms/km, two orders of magnitude higher than meridional shears, and temporal variability above 1 bar altitude level.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Sanchez-Lavega, A. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Garcia-Melendo, E. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Perez-Hoyos, S. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Hueso, R. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Wong, M. H. (California Univ. Berkeley, CA, United States)
Simon, A. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Sanz-Requena, J. F. (Universidad Europea Miguel de Cervantes)
Antunano, A. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Barrado-Izagirre, N. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Garate-Lopez, I. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Rojas, J. F. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
del Rio-Gaztelurrutia, T. (Basque Univ. Lejona, Spain)
Gomez-Forrellad, J. M. (Fundacio Privada Observatori Astronomic de Catalunya Estevve Duran Barcelona, Spain)
de Pater, I. (California Univ. Berkeley, CA, United States)
Li, L. (Houston Univ. Houston, TX, United States)
Barry, T. (Broken Hill Onservatory New South Wales, Australia)
Date Acquired
November 16, 2016
Publication Date
November 8, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Nature Communications
Volume: 7
Issue: 13262
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
complex structure