science planet saturn cassini space weather physics astronomy planetary_science
New View of Mysterious Hurricane at Saturn’s North Pole

by Michael Keller

NASA has released a new video showing the giant hurricane spinning inside the strange hexagonal shape at Saturn’s north pole.

The agency says the storm’s eye is 1,250 miles wide, about 20 times the average eye size of Earth’s hurricanes. Its outer clouds are traveling at 330 mph. The stationary hexagonal wave shape, which could fit two Earths side by side, has been experimentally shown to be caused by a gradient in wind speeds at different latitudes on the planet. The image above and the video were captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

Click through to see a close-up of the hurricane.

(This false-color image is among the first daylight pictures of the hurricane eye sitting at Saturn’s north pole. It was taken in November 2012 at a distance of 261,000 miles from the planet by the Cassini spacecraft. Courtesy JPL/NASA.)

Top Image: False-color image from NASA’s Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn’s north pole. The angry eye of a hurricane-like storm appears dark red while the fast-moving hexagonal jet stream framing it is a yellowish green. Low-lying clouds circling inside the hexagonal feature appear as muted orange color. A second, smaller vortex pops out in teal at the lower right of the image. The rings of Saturn appear in vivid blue at the top right. Courtesy JPL/NASA.

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