The perfect storm

My son is fascinated by this image over here, depicting Jupiter during Voyager 1’s approach in 1979. The other day, when that astounding, jaw-dropping picture of the huge, hurricane-like storm sitting atop Saturn’s north pole was released, showing a giant cyclonic vortex almost as wide as our entire continent, I showed it to him and he seemed strangely nonplussed. Then I had an idea: maybe it’s not as fascinating because it’s not moving. And that’s a hard thing to remedy, since Cassini is taking still pictures and not video, right? But hey, I’m an old video guy. I can brute-force this thing and “flipbook” it just like NASA and JPL did back in ’79.

I don’t often ask you guys to swallow a 13-meg animated GIF (see note below), but what you’re about to see after the jump is kind of nifty. It might just about be worth it.

This goes painfully slow the first time through, and then it runs at the intended pace. Sorry about that.

This is the result of me combing the Cassini Solstice Mission database for all of the images of the flyby of Saturn’s north pole, and picking out those images taken through filters that revealed that wild, viscous cloud structure. I didn’t try to stick to certain filters beyond that (the result would’ve been too jumpy), and I didn’t try to pretty things up or even out the luminance. I just wanted to be able to show Little E the motion of this gigantic, continent sized hurricane on another planet, spinning away like someone just pulled the plug out of Saturn’s bathtub.

Here’s the thing… I bet it’ll still leave rings.

I applied a very brief morph transition between frames (of which there were only about 21 actual usable frames) to smooth things out. It looks pretty good.

Saturn storm

NOTE: to have mercy on everyone’s connections, especially mobile folks, I cropped the image a bit. The full 500×500 animation, which is a 23 meg monster, can be seen here.

Wanna have a go? You can access the same images I did here.

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