Posts Tagged ‘California Institute Of Technology’
Saturn’s mysterious hexagon crown lit up as 30-year winter ends.
By Claire Bates
Stunning images of the intriguing hexagon shape crowning Saturn have been captured by Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft.
The hexagon jet stream has flowed around Saturn’s north pole for at least 30 years. The image [above] was captured by the Cassini spacecraft.
Scientists have waited nearly 30 years for the Sun to illuminate the ringed planet’s north pole, which heralds the arrival of spring on Saturn.
It has allowed them to take the most detailed pictures yet of the hexagon phenomenon, which has a diameter wider than two Earths. The images, taken from 475,000 miles away, have revealed concentric circles, curlicues, walls and streamers within the hexagon.
The data will help shed light on space weather and unanswered questions about the same processes on Earth.
The unusual shape is created by a jet stream flowing around the north pole, but scientists are baffled by what causes the hexagon and where it sucks in and expels its energy.
They are also intrigued by how it has managed to stay organised for so long. The last visible-light images of the entire hexagon were captured by Nasa’s Voyager spacecraft nearly 30 years ago, the last time spring began on Saturn.
After the sunlight faded, darkness shrouded the north pole for 15 years. Much to the delight of Cassini scientists, the location and shape of the hexagon in the latest images match up with what they saw in the Voyager pictures.
‘The longevity of the hexagon makes this something special, given that weather on Earth lasts on the order of weeks,’ said Kunio Sayanagi, from the Cassini imaging team at the California Institute of Technology.
‘It’s a mystery on par with the strange weather conditions that give rise to the long-lived Great Red Spot of Jupiter.’ …. Special thanks to Viewzone.com
KEN PFEIFER MUFON NEW JERSEY