Saturn's Hexagon --"One of the Most Bizarre Things Seen in the Solar System"
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November 29, 2012

Saturn's Hexagon --"One of the Most Bizarre Things Seen in the Solar System"

 

 

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One of the most bizarre things seen in the solar system is captured in the image above, taken on 27 November by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Cassini's camera zoomed into Saturn's polar hexagon storm's eye from from a distance of about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers). The spacecraft observed in infrared wavelengths, which can peer through the top layer of clouds to reveal the complex texture beneath. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been traveling the Saturnian system in a set of inclined, or tilted, orbits that give mission scientists a vertigo-inducing view of Saturn's polar regions, yielding spectacular images of roiling storm clouds and the swirling vortex at the center of Saturn's famed north polar hexagon.

These phenomena mimic what Cassini found at Saturn's south pole a number of years ago. In 2007, the Cassini team saw a huge hexagon-shaped structure two-thirds as wide as Earth about 25,000 kilometers across stretching over Saturn's north pole while planet was in the depths of its 15-year-long winter, and it was impossible to what was going on within the storm. But, with the change of the Saturnian seasons, the sun started to creep over the planet's north pole and spring lifted the gloom in 2009, and the team was able to view and study the massive storm at the hexagon's core.

NASA scientists first spotted the hexagonal weather pattern when they stitched together Voyager images of Saturn's north pole. Cassini later obtained higher-resolution pictures of the hexagon – which tells scientists it's a remarkably stable wave in one of the jet streams that remains 30 years later – but scientists are still not sure what forces maintain the object.

The hexagon was originally discovered in images taken by the Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s. It encircled Saturn at about 77 degrees north latitude and was estimated to have a diameter wider than two Earths. The jet stream is believed to whip along the hexagon at around 100 meters per second (220 miles per hour).

'Now that we can see undulations and circular features instead of blobs in the hexagon, we can start trying to solve some of the unanswered questions about one of the most bizarre things we've ever seen in the solar system," said Kevin Baines, Atmospheric scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory after viewing Cassini images in 2009. "Solving these unanswered questions about the hexagon will help us answer basic questions about weather that we're still asking about our own planet."

Because Saturn does not have land masses or oceans on its surface to complicate weather the way Earth does, its conditions give scientists a more elementary model to study the physics of circulation patterns and atmosphere, said Baines.

The images of the hexagon, whose shape is the path of a jet stream flowing around the north pole, reveal concentric circles, curlicues, walls and streamers not seen in previous images. The last visible-light images of the entire hexagon were captured by NASA's Voyager spacecraft nearly 32 years ago, the last time spring began on Saturn.

After the sunlight faded, darkness shrouded the north pole for 15 years. Much to the delight and bafflement of Cassini scientists, the location and shape of the hexagon in the latest images matched up with what they saw in the Voyager pictures.

"The longevity of the hexagon makes this something special, given that weather on Earth lasts on the order of weeks," said Kunio Sayanagi, a Cassini imaging team associate at the California Institute of Technology. "It's a mystery on par with the strange weather conditions that give rise to the long-lived Great Red Spot of Jupiter."

Early hexagon images from Voyager and ground-based telescopes suffered from poor viewing perspectives. Cassini, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, has a better angle for viewing the north pole. But the long darkness of Saturnian winter hid the hexagon from Cassini's visible-light cameras for years. Infrared instruments, however, were able to obtain images shown above and below by using heat patterns.

Those images showed the hexagon is nearly stationary and extends deep into the atmosphere. They also discovered a hotspot and cyclone in the same region. Scientists are still trying to figure out what causes the hexagon, where it gets and expels its energy and how it has stayed viable for so long. They plan to search the new images for clues, taking an especially close look at the newly identified waves that radiate from the corners of the hexagon -- where the jet takes its hardest turns -- and the multi-walled structure that extends to the top of Saturn's cloud layer in each of the hexagon's six sides.

Scientists are also particularly intrigued by a large dark spot that appeared in a different position in a previous infrared image from Cassini. In the latest images, the spot appears in the 2 o'clock position.

 

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The Daily Galaxy via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute and  NASA Cassini Mission

Comments

I see an oval, not a hexagon, any others?

I Think the 1st pict is too close-up...the 2nd picture with wider view clearly shows hexagon.

A perfect landing spot for a Saturn rover? Winds should be calm and a 1000 miles to
land in.

i know everthing as humans life is coming to an end as predicted by the mayans only i can save human lifes by the help of aliens who are ancient gods my contact no-919561895574

@ dr burke. There will be no landing on Saturn, it has no land. It is a Gas Giant. We are not even sure if they have solid cores or not.

I thought the idea was to crash Cassini into Saturn as outlined in The Lucifer Project.

This is one of the most awesome things I have ever seen. How could I have lived as long as I have and not known that there is a hexagon on the north pole of Saturn? I love this webcite

I don't see any hexagons anywhere. Could some of the more lucid please show where these structures are?

These are not the best pictures of the hexagon. The first pictures are better to see the shape. Here is the astronomy picture of the day: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120122.html and here is JPL's explanation of the phenomena: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA11682

The picture at the top of the article doesnt show the hexagon. The larger pic on the bottom shows a clear hexagon shaped "circle" on the outside edges of the pic. Focus on the outside of the ring, not the inner part

To those folks that are saying Saturn has no solid core...it has to or it couldn't be a planet, as there would be no gravity to hold it together. And hexagons are not as uncanny in nature as this article is making them seem. Beehives? Crystals? Hello? Are these researchers even aware of R. Buckminster Fuller?

Mychael Lee "hexagons are not as uncanny in nature as this article is making them seem. Beehives? Crystals? Hello? Are these researchers even aware of R. Buckminster Fuller?"

To me at least Mychael your evidence of the 'normalness' of Saturn's hexagon actually underlines how strange it is.

First of all there's the immense size but perhaps even more strikingly the examples you give all involve networks of hexagons supporting each other whereas Saturn's hexagon's exists without so much as a single other hexagon to help it maintain its structural integrity.

Mychael Lee: Gas has mass, just like liquids and solids, so it also holds itself together well enough as long as it isn't disturbed too much by other forces, doesn't it? Even the earth is only solid at its thin outer shell (known as its crust), isn't it? Warm it up a bit and it would all be liquid (molten), but it wouldn't fly apart, would it?

@Greg - we're actually Fairly Sure™ that the gas giants and ice giants have solid cores; if their gases didn't originally collect around 'grains' that now lie at their cores, their pressure is almost certain to push whatever is at their cores into a solid state of matter.

On the other hand, we have been Fairly Sure™ that the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe. What we perceive as truth about things we have no real data for has a way of changing as soon as data actually becomes available.

I read, I believe it was only wikipedia though, that they may have started off with a solid core, but it is likely that the core liquified and then dispersed into the gas due to extreme tempuratures.

To know why of the Saturn's Hexgon Vortex, I strongly suggest to read all "The Science of Oneness" but with no bias ( http://divinecosmos.com/start-here/books-free-online/19-the-science-of-oneness ). It actually contains a great deal of the true most advanced cosmology, too hard to swallow now for the mainstream science. It will clear you the why of the hexagon, and much much more.

It's a hyperdimensional hexagon in 5-space that is part of a giant hyperhive created by really big-ass bees. (I've been watching too many 2012 end-time videos on Youtube ;')

The hexagon Coriolis changed into a swirling vortex in November. Does anyone know if it changed back to a hex or is it stilling spinning?

@ Marco, I seriously hope you are not serious.

The hexagon is created by the entropic quantum fields exiting at the poles of Saturn. This quantum field is electromagnetic, thermodynamic and gravitational. Saturn has an entropic dark matter core, it is the missing 95%

(hypothetical theory) The hexagon shape is the results of Saturn's violent atmosphere as it is breaking down from the bottom up. Saturn may some day lose it's atmosphere, it's simply saying goodbye. Although it takes several thousands of years.


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