Skip to comments.More of Saturn’s Strange Hexagon – In Living Color!
Posted on 11/29/2012 5:09:11 PM PST by lbryce
Yesterday's post on new Cassini'S close-ups of Saturn's mysterious North Pole Hexagon were absolutely breathtaking in the view of the astounding spectacle that nature is capable of. Most of the images involving spectacles such as the Hexagon will usually be skewed to a certain color to dramatize the images to a heightened state of existence. But the images shown here today, on their merit, equally as dramatic but with a truer representation off their color persona that naturally tends to be more staid, neutral, certainly less dramatic as provided by the most recent batch of images provided below.
Free Republic:November 28, 2012:Incredible Raw Image of Saturns Swirling North Pole (Saturn's Enigmatic Swirling Hexagon)
Color-composite Cassini image of Saturns northern hexagon (NASA/JPL/SSI/Jason Major)
Cassini sure has been busy these past few days! After returning some mind-blowing images of the swirling 3,000-km-wide cyclone over Saturns north pole the spacecraft pulled back to give a wider view of the ringed giants upper latitudes, revealing one of its most curious features: the northern hexagon.
The image above is a color-composite made from raw images acquired by Cassini on November 28 from a distance of 379,268 miles (610,373 kilometers) away. Because the color channels were of a much lower resolution than the clear-filter monochrome image, the color is approximate in relation to individual atmospheric details. Still, it gives an idea of the incredible variation in hues around Saturns northern hemisphere as well as clearly showing the uncannily geometric structure of the hexagon.
(Can I get another WOW?)
Made of a band of upper-atmospheric winds, for some reason at this latitude the stream forms a six-sided hexagonal shape. The entire structure is about 25,000 km across large enough for four Earths to fit inside! The polar cyclone can be seen at the very center.
First seen by Voyagers 1 and 2 over 30 years ago the hexagon appears to be fixed with Saturns rotation rate, which is a remarkably speedy 0.44 Earth-days (about 10.5 hours.)
This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides, said atmospheric expert and Cassini team member Kevin Baines back in 2007. Weve never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturns thick atmosphere where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate is perhaps the last place youd expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is.
As scientists puzzled over the mechanisms behind the geometric feature, they came to the conclusion that not only is it a very natural occurrence, its also something that is not uncommon in fluid dynamics apparently its sides are bound by the eddying storms. (Read more in this article by Nicole Gugliucci.)
Here are some more raw images from Cassinis Nov. 28 pass:
Amazing! Here we are well over 8 years after arriving at Saturn and Cassini is still astounding us almost daily with views of the ringed world. (I knew it was my favorite planet for a reason!)
As always, stay tuned to Universe Today for more!
Planetary Ring Ping For you.
Planetary Ring Ping was actually meant for you.
Is that where the wind-up key goes?
Maybe, there’s a floating hexagonal city and winds just bend around it?
A giant fungus?
A defensive wall around Santa’s secret workshop?
“ANDROMEDA STRAIN” - RUN!!!
I wonder if the hexagon shape at the pole is caused by a massive diamond crystal at the planets core?
This is a very interesting picture! What an amazing place the universe is!
Thanks for posting!
Scientists are studying a possible connection between the hexagonal opening at the planet’s North Pole, and a gigantic Allen Wrench discovered drifting through space in the vicinity of Saturn.
For interesting pictures of Saturn’s North Pole Hexagon, I would absolutely encourage you to see the images I posted yesterday at the link at the top of the article that are as dramatic, enigmatic as any you’ll ever see. Much more than the ones posted here.
Reminder to the operator of the cosmic Allen Wrench: “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.” You don’t want to be the guy who stripped Saturn’s threads.
WTF??? Is this a hoax? I’m looking for “The Onion” on this....
The size of Saturn?
If Saturn were located about where our own moon is, Saturn would take up the entire sky, literally from horizon to horizon.
This depicts earth with Saturn's northern hemisphere superimposed next to it, as an example of the planets size.
This nighttime movie of the depths of the north pole of Saturn taken by the visual infrared mapping spectrometer onboard NASA's Cassini Orbiter reveals a dynamic, active planet lurking underneath the ubiquitous cover of upper-level hazes. The defining feature of Saturn's north polar regions--the six-sided hexagon feature--is clearly visible in the image.
Here, brightness indicates the amount of 5-micron (seven times the wavelength visible to the human eye) radiation, or heat, generated in the depths of the warm interior of Saturn that escapes the planet. Clouds at a depth equivalent to 3-Earth-atmospheres pressure block the light radiating from below, revealing themselves in dark silhouette against the background thermal glow of the planet. These deep clouds lie some 75 kilometers (47 miles) underneath the typical ammonia hazes and clouds seen in visual imagery and are likely composed of ammonia-hydrosulfide, although some may be composed of water, as on Earth. A prominent feature seen in this polar view is a strange hexagon wave feature circumscribing the north pole.
This nighttime movie was acquired over a one-hour period on Nov. 10, 2006, from an average distance of 1.03 million kilometers (621,000 miles) above Saturn's clouds.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona, where this image was produced.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .
While it appears strange and unnatural in the context of a natural feature of that size, the hexagon is a very fundamental shape in nature, because it can be formed easily by simple interactions of forces. There is a whole set of regular geometric shapes that appear throughout nature like this, formed by different types of forces, but the same varieties of interactions. They’re all related to Pythagorean geometry and the Golden Mean, and they appear from the Galactic scale, to the planetary scale, to our terrestrial scale, and down to the molecular, atomic, and subatomic scales.
For example, one of the manifestations of interference patterns in any type of waves is an oscillating plane of regular hexagons. Since they are one of the few shapes that can be assembled into a perfect grid with no gaps, they allow an optimal equilibrium to be achieved between the opposing forces of the waves which are colliding. In simpler terms, the hexagons form because it’s the easiest way for the colliding waves to fit together, the path of least resistance.
This instance of one single hexagon is odd, but it’s probably a function of the spherical geometry and the Coriolis effect altering the normal wave interactions that would occur on a flat plane.
If anyone is interesting in seeing what I was talking about with hexagonal wave interference patterns, here is a video. It will probably be easier to understand by seeing it, than reading my clunky explanation:
What you are seeing there is simply a liquid on top of an oscillating surface, likely a normal cabinet speaker head. The oscillations transmitted to the liquid cause a particular type of wave to form, called a standing wave. Standing waves are waves where matter oscillates “in place”, rather than moving in a direction, like the waves in an ocean.
Depending on the frequency of oscillation transmitted to the liquid, the standing waves will form interference patterns with different geometries. This one is based on hexagons, others are based on circles, triangles, squares, pentagons, and other regular geometric, Pythagorean shapes.
There are even certain interference patterns that will actually form, in a series steps, all of the possible geometric configurations of electron shells, demonstrating that electron shells are manifesting the same standing wave behavior, at the atomic level, due to the same types of interactions of forces that we can model on our scale.