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Bizarre Hexagon Spotted on Saturn
Space.com ^ | 3/27/07

Posted on 03/27/2007 11:10:24 AM PDT by anymouse

One of the most bizarre weather patterns known has been photographed at Saturn, where astronomers have spotted a huge, six-sided feature circling the north pole.

Rather than the normally sinuous cloud structures seen on all planets that have atmospheres, this thing is a hexagon.

The honeycomb-like feature has been seen before. NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft imaged it more than two decades ago. Now, having spotted it with the Cassini spacecraft, scientists conclude it is a long-lasting oddity.

"This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides," said Kevin Baines, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We've never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturn's thick atmosphere, where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate, is perhaps the last place you'd expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is."

The hexagon is nearly 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) across. Nearly four Earths could fit inside it. The thermal imagery shows the hexagon extends about 60 miles (100 kilometers) down into the clouds.

At Saturn's south pole, Cassini recently spotted a freaky human eye-like feature that resembles a hurricane.

"It's amazing to see such striking differences on opposite ends of Saturn's poles," said Bob Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer at the University of Arizona. "At the south pole we have what appears to be a hurricane with a giant eye, and at the north pole of Saturn we have this geometric feature, which is completely different."

The hexagon appears to have remained fixed with Saturn's rotation rate and axis since first glimpsed by Voyager 26 years ago. The actual rotation rate of Saturn is still uncertain, which means nobody knows exactly how long the planet's day is.

"Once we understand its dynamical nature, this long-lived, deep-seated polar hexagon may give us a clue to the true rotation rate of the deep atmosphere and perhaps the interior," Baines said.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: astronomy; catastrophism; hexagon; polarvortex; saturn; space
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Paging Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

1 posted on 03/27/2007 11:10:25 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: KevinDavis; Shuttle Shucker; RadioAstronomer

Space ping.


2 posted on 03/27/2007 11:11:20 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: anymouse

Absolutely. 6 nearly equal sides is hard to get naturally, unless this is a giant fractal.


3 posted on 03/27/2007 11:11:32 AM PDT by EarthBound (Ex Deo,gratia. Ex astris,scientia (Duncan Hunter in 2008! http://www.gohunter08.com))
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To: xsmommy

apocolyptic stuff in the sky pings.


4 posted on 03/27/2007 11:11:38 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (The Hunt for Fred November)
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To: NeoCaveman

i think it looks like the icing on a cupcake, but that's probably just because i gave up sweets for lent : )


5 posted on 03/27/2007 11:12:39 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: NeoCaveman

are you thinking...Six...Six...Six...?


6 posted on 03/27/2007 11:12:51 AM PDT by bigbob (2)
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To: anymouse

7 posted on 03/27/2007 11:13:44 AM PDT by nascarnation
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To: anymouse

The scientists are simpletons/

It's a screw on lid!


8 posted on 03/27/2007 11:13:52 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitor)
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To: anymouse

Yawn. Wake me when they discover an octagonal shape.


9 posted on 03/27/2007 11:14:06 AM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: bigbob
are you thinking...Six...Six...Six...?

Not until you mentioned it.

10 posted on 03/27/2007 11:14:37 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (The Hunt for Fred November)
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To: EarthBound
"6 nearly equal sides is hard to get naturally"

snowflakes

11 posted on 03/27/2007 11:14:51 AM PDT by avg_freeper (Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga)
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To: anymouse
Caused by global warming?
12 posted on 03/27/2007 11:14:54 AM PDT by 2001convSVT ("People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence")
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To: anymouse

Saturn warming?


13 posted on 03/27/2007 11:14:57 AM PDT by Burkean
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To: anymouse

Ugh ... I had a bad case of that, once. They gave me some heavy-duty antibiotics, and it cleared right up.


14 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:21 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: EarthBound

Maybe we found the aliens sooner than expected. I always wanted to meet the Vulcans or Klingons.


15 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:31 AM PDT by brooklyn dave
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To: anymouse

16 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:33 AM PDT by Red Steel
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To: NeoCaveman
"apocalyptic stuff in the sky pings"

Yeah, but it's Saturn's sky so don't worry.


17 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:36 AM PDT by I see my hands (_8(|)
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To: anymouse

It's where the Atlanteans moved their intergalactic headquarters after their islands sunk. ;)


18 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:44 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("Wise men don't need to debate; men who need to debate are not wise." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: bigbob

did you just ping me?


19 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:45 AM PDT by the_devils_advocate_666
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To: anymouse
That's Calypso Louie's docked mother ship
20 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:50 AM PDT by Osage Orange (Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rodgers)
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To: xsmommy

It kind of looks like the Burger King ice cream lid that they removed because it offened Muslims because it looked like it said Allah.

The Mohammedans might just riot of this one.


21 posted on 03/27/2007 11:15:52 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (The Hunt for Fred November)
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To: anymouse

It looks like a giant sweet roll. This proves it-we are somebody else's food!


22 posted on 03/27/2007 11:16:23 AM PDT by WestVirginiaRebel ("...Mindless pack of trained Maoist circus seals."-www.iowahwk.typepad.com)
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To: anymouse

How bizarre
How bizarre, how bizarre

Everytime I look around
Everytime I look around
Everytime I look around
It's in my face


23 posted on 03/27/2007 11:17:13 AM PDT by OB1kNOb (After 20+ LONG years, a REAL conservative I can support 4 President - DUNCAN HUNTER '08)
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To: Burkean

Obviously, Saturn is preparing to go to war with Earth. We have our Pentagon, they have their Hexagon. They must be irritated that we are warming the solar system, enough to start hostilities.


24 posted on 03/27/2007 11:17:21 AM PDT by C210N (Bush SPIED, Terrorists DIED!)
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To: Blueflag
It's a screw on lid!

"My God...it's full of stars!"

25 posted on 03/27/2007 11:17:40 AM PDT by 50sDad (Cultural Diversity means never having to say "I don't fit in.")
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To: anymouse

Interplanetary crop circles.


26 posted on 03/27/2007 11:17:42 AM PDT by 6SJ7
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To: anymouse

27 posted on 03/27/2007 11:18:19 AM PDT by capydick (Better to Fight for Something Than to Live for Nothing)
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To: xsmommy

LOL

So did my office. It's been brutal!

It looks so vague, but I can see it, how odd.


28 posted on 03/27/2007 11:18:36 AM PDT by RikaStrom (The number one rule of the Kama Sutra is that you both be on the same page.../Exeter 051705)
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To: C210N
Obviously, Saturn is preparing to go to war with Earth.

They come in peace. They just want to take Dennis Kucinich back to his home planet.

29 posted on 03/27/2007 11:19:10 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (The Hunt for Fred November)
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To: avg_freeper

ah ah ahh... I said "Unless its fractal". Snowflakes form in fractal formations =)


30 posted on 03/27/2007 11:20:07 AM PDT by EarthBound (Ex Deo,gratia. Ex astris,scientia (Duncan Hunter in 2008! http://www.gohunter08.com))
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To: anymouse
It's just the mother ship.
31 posted on 03/27/2007 11:20:33 AM PDT by MaxMax (God Bless America)
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To: anymouse
Katrina's eye had a hexagon. Therefore the hexagon on Saturn has to be Bush's fault.
32 posted on 03/27/2007 11:20:55 AM PDT by DogBarkTree (The United States failure to act against Iran will be seen as weakness throughout the Muslim world.)
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To: RikaStrom; NeoCaveman

and there are like cookie crumbs dusting the icing and some little red hots on there too... ; )


33 posted on 03/27/2007 11:20:57 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: bigbob
are you thinking...Six...Six...Six...?

Not all of us are hung up on Saturnism.

34 posted on 03/27/2007 11:21:16 AM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: xsmommy

Oh just go have a candy bar, for crying out loud.

lol.


35 posted on 03/27/2007 11:21:52 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (The Hunt for Fred November)
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To: anymouse

Yeah, but in Base-11, it becomes a giant Pi symbol.


36 posted on 03/27/2007 11:21:58 AM PDT by NoneOfTheAbove (Economics=Reality; Politics=Fantasy; When politics meets reality, economics decides the winner)
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To: 50sDad

hehe ... actually it's full of THESE!

http://www.lanceradvanced.com/Models/Images/attacker.jpg


37 posted on 03/27/2007 11:22:04 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitor)
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To: NeoCaveman

sugar deprivation can be an ugly thing... LOL!!!


38 posted on 03/27/2007 11:22:37 AM PDT by xsmommy
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To: EarthBound
I believe hexagons are quite prevalent in nature.

It is the most efficient shape for packing/stacking. It provides the most area for a given perimeter. Bees use it:

These are made by living things of course, but perhaps there's a similar physical reason why this shape is occurring.

39 posted on 03/27/2007 11:22:56 AM PDT by D-fendr
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To: anymouse

I wonder if the governor of some western state is going to claim that the hexagon was put there by space monsters.


40 posted on 03/27/2007 11:23:01 AM PDT by mysterio
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To: anymouse

41 posted on 03/27/2007 11:23:19 AM PDT by D-Chivas
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To: EarthBound

What's a fractal? Hope it's not like a henway!


42 posted on 03/27/2007 11:23:40 AM PDT by Suzy Quzy (Hillary '08...Her Phoniness is Genuine!!!)
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To: anymouse

HA! - I was thinking Rama....


43 posted on 03/27/2007 11:23:46 AM PDT by Psalm 73 ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here - this is the War Room".)
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To: DogBarkTree

44 posted on 03/27/2007 11:24:15 AM PDT by DogBarkTree (The United States failure to act against Iran will be seen as weakness throughout the Muslim world.)
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To: anymouse

I had one of those on my butt once - what a relief when it popped!


45 posted on 03/27/2007 11:24:32 AM PDT by Lando Lincoln
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To: xsmommy

I'm sure glad I don't have to give up snake handling for Lent. My snake Sparky would get lonesome.


46 posted on 03/27/2007 11:24:42 AM PDT by CholeraJoe (Hajjis HATE the waterboard! It can turn a clam into a canary so fast Harry Potter would be jealous.)
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To: anymouse

the DEVIL lives there!!!!!!


47 posted on 03/27/2007 11:24:50 AM PDT by KingRonnie9
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To: anymouse

I see Mother Teresa's face.


48 posted on 03/27/2007 11:25:36 AM PDT by Keli Kilohana (Editor, ZARR CHASM CHRONICAL [sic], Sore, WV)
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To: anymouse

It's obvious that this woman is over sixty.


49 posted on 03/27/2007 11:26:28 AM PDT by fish hawk (The religion of Darwinism = Monkey Intellect)
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To: D-Chivas
"Ted is the walrus - goo-goo-ga-choo...."
50 posted on 03/27/2007 11:27:37 AM PDT by Psalm 73 ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here - this is the War Room".)
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