This might look like a red rose, but it's actually a false-color image of the eye of the hurricane swirling over Saturn's north pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent back stunning new images of a powerful hurricane swirling over Saturn's north pole.
Experts say the hurricane is packing 330 mph winds and has an eye extending some 1,250 miles across, which makes the storm about 20 times larger than a typical hurricane on Earth. Scientists believe the storm has been active for years.
The images, two of which are false-color, represent some of the first sunlit images taken by Cassini of the planet's north pole.
Interestingly, unlike hurricanes on Earth, this storm isn't churning over water.
"We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth," said Cassini imaging team member Andrew Ingersoll. "But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn's hydrogen atmosphere."
Scientists plan to study the storm to gain insight into how hurricanes work on Earth.
False-color image of hurricane swirling over Saturn's north pole. The eye of the storm is in red. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)
Color image of the hurricane churning over Saturn's north pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)
This video offers more insight into the new photos: