Saturn's north polar hexagon

Feb 26, 2013
Credit: NASA/JPL

(Phys.org)—Saturn's north polar hexagon basks in the Sun's light now that spring has come to the northern hemisphere. Many smaller storms dot the north polar region and Saturn's signature rings, which appear to disappear on account of Saturn's shadow, put in an appearance in the background.

The image was taken with the 's wide-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 750 nanometers.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 403,000 miles (649,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 21 degrees. Image scale is 22 miles (35 kilometers) per pixel.

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User comments : 7

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cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Feb 26, 2013
Hexagon? What could possibly explain that? No bucket analogies please, I see no buckets on Saturn.

http://www.thunde...ot-spot/
VendicarE
5 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2013
"What could possibly explain that?" - cantdrive85

The effect is due to standing waves in the polar vortex of Saturn.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2013
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 quoted article continues;
"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."

http://www.jpl.na...2007-034
I'm surprised the physicists at JPL didn't consider standing waves, and I'm sure there is a simple explanation as to why these standing waves rotate with the planet. Whatever the explanation it surely cannot have anything to do with moving charged particles (currents), regardless of the resolution it offers.
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2013
"Hexagon? What could possibly explain that?"

Several popular theories involve standing waves, as mentioned by Vendi. Here are a couple:

http://home.uchic...2009.pdf

http://adsabs.har...47.1061A
Allex
5 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2013
Hexagon? What could possibly explain that? No bucket analogies please, I see no buckets on Saturn.

http://www.thunde...ot-spot/

Stop trolling. Nobody cares about your ridiculous EU bullshit anymore. People are tired and fed up with you shitting all over every new article. You got the reward for being the local retard, what more do you want? No, don't answer. Nobody cares anyway.
Qshadow
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2013
This is a screw that holds the Universe. If you open it the Universe will disintegrate.
VendicarE
not rated yet Feb 27, 2013
Saturn has no solid surface so there is no fixed surface with which to define absolute rotation.

"I'm surprised the physicists at JPL didn't consider standing waves, and I'm sure there is a simple explanation as to why these standing waves rotate with the planet" - Cantdrive

Your question really is "why is there an integer multiple of full cycles in the standing wave".

The answer is that this is so because a non integer number would produce destructive interference and destroy the effect.

Why is the feature stable and why 3 full cycles?

The stability probably comes from a non-linearity in the way the atmosphere responds to the wave. Currently for example the earth has two complete waves in it's polar vortex.

Look closely here...

http://synoptic.e...anim.gif

You will note an elliptical shape oriented 45' to the left.

It appears to me to be rotating counter clockwise.

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