Saturn | Cassini | Hexagon

Saturn’s north pole features a hexagon shaped pattern in the clouds driven by fast winds that wrap the planet. The hexagon is about as wide as 2 Earths. This image taken by Cassini on 2 Apr 2014 is in greyscale.

On 26 Apr 2017, Cassini passed over this same hexagon region but at a much lower altitude. This pass was the first of 22 during the coming months in the Grand Finale of the mission. It will enter the cloud tops 15 Sep 2017 to end the 20 year mission at Saturn. As Cassini made this recent close pass, it imaged the hexagon in greyscale 3 time with filters of red, green, and blue.

Using Photoshop, I combined these RGB greyscale images into one with color. The colors are not necessarily what the eye would see. They are my choices in order to enhance differences in regions and appearance. The large blue object at the bottom is like the eye of a hurricane on Earth, but much larger.

The hexagon pattern can be produced in a laboratory evidenced in this post.


11 thoughts on “Saturn | Cassini | Hexagon

  1. As soon as I saw that hexagon, I was just as curious as the scientists who first saw it. That post you linked was like Alice’s rabbit hole. I love that they managed a triangle, an oval, and so on. The graph showing the wind speeds by latitude seemed familiar, too. I finally realized it reminded me of the graphs used by meteorologists to predict things like wind shear.

    Very, very interesting.

      • You’re right. I did like them. I liked the one about the The Banach–Tarski Paradox, too. I found that in the side bar, and had a look because the little symbol they were using looked like a mimosa flower. I still don’t understand that one, but it kept me entranced for a half-hour. 🙂

  2. The hexagon effect is just the sort of thing that in a non-scientific society might produce superstition. To see it logically explained and reproduced is marvelous, an excellent exercise. It made me recall the most challenging engineering course I ever had, Fluid Dynamics. I have nothing but admiration for those who master such complexity.

    • It is amazing and there is more to come.

      Thanks for stopping by. I went to your stick computing site. Lots of cool gadgets there.

  3. Amazing post! The pictures from Cassini have been fantastic. There is an hallucinatory look to Saturn and it’s rings. Gravity really knows how to put it all together!

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