CASSINI GETS BEST VIEW OF SATURN’S MYSTERIOUS NORTH POLE HEXAGON.
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL Cassini Spacecraft: CLICK for full size photo and see below for links including where to see this photo animated.
First discovered by the Voyager space probes in the early 80’s this formation is known as the “Saturn Hexagon”; this six sided jet-stream located at Saturn’s North Pole is captured in its greatest detail yet by the orbiting Cassini probe. The hexagon itself spans 20,000 miles in diameter and its winds clock in at 200+ miles per hour and at its center; a massive polar storm. As far as we know, this is the only known formation like this in the solar system.
This fascinating view was made possible because the Sun has been illuminating the region since late 2012 with the ringed planets summer solstice coming in 2017. The animated version of this photo was captured over a period of ten hours. In the video you can see the rotation of this massive formation as well as smaller vortices that actually rotate in the opposite direction as the main structure. Smaller is relative however because they span approximately 2,200 miles in diameter.
NASA JPL Cassini Solstice Mission page for this release: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/newsreleases/newsrelease20131204/
NASA JPL Cassini movie page for this release:
NASA Cassini main page:
The previous 2 posts I have made on this phenomenon: