Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mystery of giant arrow-shaped cloud on Titan solved as scientists claim it is massive atmospheric weather wave - 17th Aug 2011

The baffling mystery of a vast arrow-shaped cloud on Titan looks to have been solved after scientists attributed the phenomenon to giant atmospheric weather waves.

The 'arrow' is bigger than the U.S state of Texas - around 930 miles long - and was was detected on the Saturn moon by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft in September 2010.

The discovery of its origins on Titan, described by researchers as Earth's 'strange sibling', could now be used to better understand weather systems on our own planet, particularly in relation to climate change.

'These atmospheric waves are somewhat like the natural, resonant vibration of a wine glass,' said Jonathan L. Mitchell, UCLA's assistant professor of earth and space sciences and of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

'Individual clouds might "ring the bell", so to speak, and once the ringing starts, the clouds have to respond to that vibration.'

That response sees the clouds being pushed into various surprising shapes, such as an arrow. Read More