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 recently released this image of Saturn that shows the gas giant from an angle seldom seen. The Cassini spacecraft, in orbit since 2004, took the 60 images that created this composite while the sun backlit Saturn and its ring system.
This rare and moody view of Saturn in shadow was no accident, though. NASA says that scientists needed to see the planet from this angle as part of investigations into the planet’s ring and atmospheric phenomena.
The enhanced-color image taken on Oct. 17 at a distance of about 500,000 miles combines infrared, red and violet spectral filters. Two of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus and Tethys, are visible on the left side of the picture.