Saturn's hexagonal pole storm revealed in new Cassini probe shots


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/07/saturns-hexagonal-pole-storm.html


#2

Cool


#3

Cassini “settled in” to orbit Saturn 12 years ago


#4

That’s just the most visible hexagon. The whole planet’s mapped out for RPGs.


#5

That hexagonal thing, though! I recall reading somewhere that the hexagon is one of nature’s ‘resting points’, so to speak, as seen in places like Devil’s Postpile. But that’s magma that’s cooled and settled into a hexagon–why would gas moving freely on a planet shift into that shape?


#6

It’s a standing wave. You can see them in our clouds sometimes - hundreds of miles of identical ripples. I don’t think it had to be six, I think five or seven should work about the same.


#7

The orbit has been altered. Pray they do not alter it again.


#8

But a standing wave in a gas created by…more gas? I suppose it makes sense in that temperature and pressure differentials have already given us the Great Red Spot, among other things, but it’s still amazing to me.

I’m still dreaming of the spacecraft that will enter Jupiter’s atmosphere and just glide on the cloudtops.


#9

Cassini is chaotic neutral so we may or may not get more images.


#10

The irrepressible Cassini doing its thing:

The colorized version of the pole just became my phone wallpaper. Replacing an image of Jupiter’s pole. So many awesome images of our solar system, so few phones.


#11

Makes me think of swirly dishwater going down the drain, personally.

Bit reminiscent of this, in that regard.


#12

We have something similar on earth, called a Rossby wave. The atmospheric ones on earth do not fit an exact number of wobbles into the circle so they tend to peel off blobs of cold air from time to time. It looks like the ones on Saturn (if that’s what they are) get six cycles into their circle, so it looks hexagonal, and it’s stable. There might be other planets where five or seven work.


#13

All this foolin’ around and whizzin’ about. Might wobble Saturn so much it comes crashin’ into earth. No good’ll come of it I tells ya. No good.


#14

It’s reproducible in the lab, using a rotating tank.


#15

Not for Battletech?


#16

I’m waiting for the SF novel to come out that uses this pic as part of the basis for some ancient machine or civilization.


#17

We can’t just let Saturn have a little privacy, can we?


#18

The orbit has been altered. Pray they do not alter it again.

From an infamous red dwarf episode:

Cop: [to Sebastian-Lister] Come out of the shadows, Voter.
Sebastian Doyle: What’s the beef? Did she steal your lunch box?
Cop: M… mm… many apologies, Voter Colonel.
Sebastian Doyle: You know me?
Cop: Of course, Voter Colonel.
Sebastian Doyle: Who am I?
Cop: You are Colonel Sebastian Doyle, Section Chief of CGI, Head of the Ministry of Alteration.
Sebastian Doyle: Remind me a little: what do we do at the Ministry of Alteration?
Cop: You… change people, Sir.
Sebastian Doyle: In what way?
Cop: You change them from being alive people, to being dead people. To purify Democracy.

Cassini is being changed.


#19

Never mind all this stuff about standing waves and fluid dynamics.

We all know that the Saturn hexagon is where you fit the allen key on your IKEA Löwdin solar system set.


#20

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