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.
The image above (larger here) shows a phenomenal cloud pattern that sits over Saturn’s north polar region. The hexagon, which was first seen more than 20 years ago by the passing pair of Voyager spacecraft, was recorded again by the international Cassini spacecraft mission on Nov. 27, 2012.
The many smaller dots in and around the 15,000-mile-wide hexagonal vortex are smaller storms. This image was taken with Cassini’s wide-angle camera using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light.
This animated image shows Saturn’s north polar hexagonal vortex in motion at night on the planet. Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
Top Image: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
NASA is taking its next-generation James Webb Space Telescope on the road to Austin, Texas, in March.
Those attending the South by Southwest festival on March 8-10 will get to see a life-sized model of the Hubble’s successor, an advanced instrument designed to make astronomical observations in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. NASA is angling to launch the telescope in 2018 and begin a science mission to find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe.
Click through to see an infographic on how the James Webb will unfold out of the Ariane 5 spacecraft that carries it into space.