The north pole of Saturn is a gigantic hexagon easily capable of swallowing the entire earth. That the feature is so symmetrical and of at least twenty years standing has become a great mystery of the solar system. The hexagon is made up of swirling gasses, but we know of nothing that would cause a cloud to form a hexagonal shape and remain like that for an extended period. The cloud could be much older than 20 years. That’s simply when we discovered it.
Here’s a nice video about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOiV1RSfMnQ&NR=1

3 Comments

  1. The mystery is not unsolved.
    The mystery is not unsolved. Wallace Thornhill and others at http://www.thunderbolts.info have discussed this repeatedly; it is a diocotron instability. Here is a sample comment:

    “One of the most bizarre configurations discovered on Saturn is the hexagon that dominates its north pole. The formation was originally seen by cameras onboard the twin Voyager spacecraft that flew by Saturn in November 1980 and then again in August 1981. NASA researchers continue to refer to the structure as “unexplained”, since the convective interpretations of Saturnian weather do not include mechanisms by which clouds can organize themselves into polygonal shapes.

    For many years researchers studying the issue have known that beams of electricity flowing through plasma produce a central column surrounded by concentric cylinders. The cylindrical current filaments exhibit long-range attraction and short-range repulsion braiding that result in evenly spaced vortices surrounding the column. As the filaments rotate around one another, a preferred hexagonal cross-section forms within the innermost column. Hexagonal craters can be seen etched into the surfaces of planets and moons. Weather patterns, such as hurricanes on Earth, also exhibit hexagonal “eyes” that defy conventional explanation.

    The hexagon at Saturn’s north pole is another example of electrical activity in the solar system on a tremendous scale. Electricity moves along Birkeland current filaments that electrically connect the Sun with its family of planetary bodies. The energy flows most strongly into the giant gas planets because their charge differential with the Sun is greater than that of their smaller, rocky cousins.”

    from: http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2009/arch09/090116vortex.htm

    A broader discussion is at: http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2011/arch11/110310hexagon.htm

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