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another_someone

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« on: 28/03/2007 23:24:42 »
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2007-034
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Cassini Images Bizarre Hexagon on Saturn
March 27, 2007

Pasadena, Calif. -- An odd, six-sided, honeycomb-shaped feature circling the entire north pole of Saturn has captured the interest of scientists with NASA's Cassini mission.

NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft imaged the feature over two decades ago. The fact that it has appeared in Cassini images indicates that it is a long-lived feature. A second hexagon, significantly darker than the brighter historical feature, is also visible in the Cassini pictures. The spacecraft's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer is the first instrument to capture the entire hexagon feature in one image.

"This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides," said Kevin Baines, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We've never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturn's thick atmosphere where circularly-shaped waves and convective cells dominate is perhaps the last place you'd expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is."

The hexagon is similar to Earth's polar vortex, which has winds blowing in a circular pattern around the polar region.  On Saturn, the vortex has a hexagonal rather than circular shape. The hexagon is nearly 25,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) across. Nearly four Earths could fit inside it.

The new images taken in thermal-infrared light show the hexagon extends much deeper down into the atmosphere than previously expected, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) below the cloud tops. A system of clouds lies within the hexagon. The clouds appear to be whipping around the hexagon like cars on a racetrack.

"It's amazing to see such striking differences on opposite ends of Saturn's poles," said Bob Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, University of Arizona, Tucson. "At the south pole we have what appears to be a hurricane with a giant eye, and at the north pole of Saturn we have this geometric feature, which is completely different."

The Saturn north pole hexagon has not been visible to Cassini's visual cameras, because it's winter in that area, so the hexagon is under the cover of the long polar night, which lasts about 15 years. The infrared mapping spectrometer can image Saturn in both daytime and nighttime conditions and see deep inside. It imaged the feature with thermal wavelengths near 5 microns (seven times the wavelength visible to the human eye) during a 12-day period beginning on Oct. 30, 2006. As winter wanes over the next two years, the feature may become visible to the visual cameras.

Based on the new images and more information on the depth of the feature, scientists think it is not linked to Saturn's radio emissions or to auroral activity, as once contemplated, even though Saturn's northern aurora lies nearly overhead.

The hexagon appears to have remained fixed with Saturn's rotation rate and axis since first glimpsed by Voyager 26 years ago. The actual rotation rate of Saturn is still uncertain.

"Once we understand its dynamical nature, this long-lived, deep-seated polar hexagon may give us a clue to the true rotation rate of the deep atmosphere and perhaps the interior," added Baines.

The hexagon images and movie, including the north polar auroras are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu .

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona.

This nighttime view of Saturn's north pole shows a bizarre six-sided hexagon feature encircling the entire north pole. The red color indicates the amount of 5-micron wavelength radiation, or heat, generated in the warm interior of Saturn that escapes the planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This nighttime movie of the depths of the north pole of Saturn reveals a dynamic, active planet lurking underneath the ubiquitous cover of upper-level hazes. Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Another view of the bizarre six-sided feature encircling the north pole of Saturn. Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


 

Offline ukmicky

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #1 on: 29/03/2007 02:12:16 »
Wicked, Thats the first time i heard of that.
It does make you wonder whats going on below the clouds, something circular is very easy to understand but a hexagon is just plain weird.





 

Offline lightarrow

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #2 on: 29/03/2007 12:34:15 »
Wicked, Thats the first time i heard of that.
It does make you wonder whats going on below the clouds, something circular is very easy to understand but a hexagon is just plain weird.
Yes it's weird mostly (for me) because there is only one; exagonal structures are typical of convection cells:
http://www.etl.noaa.gov/about/eo/science/convection/RBCells.html

« Last Edit: 29/03/2007 12:58:36 by lightarrow »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #3 on: 29/03/2007 13:36:25 »
Stunning photo. Have any theories been put forward yet?
 

another_someone

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #4 on: 29/03/2007 15:07:38 »
Yes it's weird mostly (for me) because there is only one; exagonal structures are typical of convection cells:
http://www.etl.noaa.gov/about/eo/science/convection/RBCells.html

Very interesting, but, as you point out, Rayleigh-Benard Convection Cells don't come in singles, and they also require incredibly smooth surfaces for form, and a smooth surface is usually a young surface (one that has not yet suffered trauma from astronomical collisions or local weathering).
 

Offline lightarrow

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #5 on: 29/03/2007 19:03:01 »
Yes it's weird mostly (for me) because there is only one; exagonal structures are typical of convection cells:
http://www.etl.noaa.gov/about/eo/science/convection/RBCells.html
Very interesting, but, as you point out, Rayleigh-Benard Convection Cells don't come in singles, and they also require incredibly smooth surfaces for form, and a smooth surface is usually a young surface (one that has not yet suffered trauma from astronomical collisions or local weathering).
Yes, it's very strange. I wonder if it could be possible that convective flows moved from outside the pole radially inwards and divided in 6 parts and that this distorted the polar circle into an exagon.
About the smoothness of the bottom surface, maybe it's not the ground, but a first atmosferic layer.
Anyway, I prefer to think it's due to aliens...
« Last Edit: 29/03/2007 19:06:31 by lightarrow »
 

Offline Atomic-S

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #6 on: 10/04/2007 05:55:50 »
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It does make you wonder whats going on below the clouds, something circular is very easy to understand but a hexagon is just plain weird.
Not really. Ever hear of a lug nut?

 

Offline lightarrow

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #7 on: 10/04/2007 18:56:52 »
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It does make you wonder whats going on below the clouds, something circular is very easy to understand but a hexagon is just plain weird.
Not really. Ever hear of a lug nut?
So, according to its sense of rotation, it's being unscrewing now!
What will happen then to Saturn?  ;)
 

Offline Seany

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #8 on: 12/04/2007 13:36:20 »
This is fascinating. Are there any known reasons for this? I'm really curious, as would most people..
 

Offline Seany

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #9 on: 13/04/2007 13:25:37 »
So, there aren't any reasons for it, yet?
 

Offline Atomic-S

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #10 on: 14/04/2007 05:28:42 »
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So, according to its sense of rotation, it's being unscrewing now!
What will happen then to Saturn?
Undoubtedly it will come off of its axis and go careening around the solar system, might cause an accident.
 

Offline RD

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #11 on: 14/04/2007 10:24:35 »
The hexagon formation could be a resonance effect, like these Cymatic images...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymatics

Orbital resonance can create 60 degree patterns ...
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Trojan asteroids cluster around one of two points that lead or trail the planet by about 60 degrees in its orbit, known as Lagrange points.
http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Three_Trojan_Asteroids_Share_Neptune_Orbit.html
« Last Edit: 14/04/2007 10:27:20 by RD »
 

Offline Atomic-S

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #12 on: 01/05/2007 06:48:56 »
Regarding Rayleigh-Bernard convection cell as a possible explanation: One problem with that is that the RB cells form in mass, that is in groups of large numbers of cells, not singly. The way I see it, the RB phenomenon is a combination of the principle that a convection cell in a thin layer is not thermodynamically viable larger than a certain size, combined with the fact that if the layer covers many times this size, separate cells form. The hexagonality very probably derives from the simple operation of geometry upon the assemblage of like but pliable objects (cells), which then line themselves up in a hexagonal array in the same way that bubble will when they are formed on the surface of a soapy liquid by a staedy but small jet of air being emitted from a subsurface source. It is basically simple crystallography.

But on saturn, there is only one hexagon (that is, only one center of one).

Therefore one looks for another explanation on Saturn.
 

Offline Ophiolite

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #13 on: 01/05/2007 09:45:00 »
It is, at the very least, a nice little refutation of the creationist's argument that order cannot emerge out of chaos. [8D]
 

Offline neilep

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #14 on: 01/05/2007 21:38:07 »
FANTASTIC !!!!

THANKS GEORGE !!!

 

Offline RD

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #15 on: 02/05/2007 15:10:57 »
Some claim that there is resonance between Saturn and Neptune...

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A similarity between the precession period of Saturn's spin axis and the 1.87106 yr precession period of Neptune's slightly inclined orbit plane implicates a resonant interaction between these planets as responsible for tilting Saturn from an initially more upright state.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004AJ....128.2501W 

« Last Edit: 02/05/2007 15:25:06 by RD »
 

Offline neilep

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #16 on: 02/05/2007 16:31:49 »
It's freaking me a little !!.....I so hope we find an explanation in our lifetime !!
 

Offline rickard

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #17 on: 26/12/2008 14:00:57 »
Hi all!
I started another topic related to this, since i had erraneously searched "the site" rather than "the forum" for a suitable thread. Lightarrow kindly guided me to this thread, so I'll summarize what i wrote in the new thread, and try to remove it.
Aaanyway, it's now been some 20 months since that article, and it mentioned more information might be possible to acquire when Saturn's north pole headed into day, 18 months later.
So, i was simply wondering if some news has risen lately. Googling, i found that not much at all has been written about it, since march 2007. If you don't count various conspiracy-and/or-religious theories.

I did manage to find newbielink:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1085354/Mysterious-glowing-aurora-Saturn-confounds-scientists.html [nonactive], though, from november 2008, mentioning the hexagon now glows from auroras.
Probably good fuel for the fire for even more conspiracy-and/or-religious theories, i'm guessing the auroras appear because of temperature changes due to the shift from night to day, releasing some particles that have been frozen/liquidized below the "surface". I'm hardly a physicist or meteorologist though, so i wouldn't know.

Regards,
Rickard
 

Offline RD

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #18 on: 26/12/2008 16:19:29 »
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The pattern's origin is a matter of much speculation. Most astronomers seem to think some sort of standing-wave pattern in the atmosphere; but the hexagon might be a novel sort of aurora.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn#Cloud_layers

Hexagonal standing waves on youtube (use pause) ... http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=GCUg4Kx_CjY&feature=related


If the aurora does correspond with the hexagon then the resonance effect creating the hexagon could be from the cores of Saturn, which generate its magnetic field, rotating at in a particular way. Particles from space guided by the hexagonal magnetic field could then mark/carve a hexagon in the clouds.

(Aurorae are caused by particles from the sun being accelerated by the magnetic field generated by motion within a planets core.
The particles collide with atoms in the planet's atmosphere and these collisions can be energetic enough to emit light: the aurorae).
 

Offline rickard

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #19 on: 27/12/2008 23:19:28 »
Managed to find some additional, fairly recent, information about the hexagon.

newbielink:http://www.scienceray.com/Astronomy/Something-Strange-About-Saturn.371927 [nonactive]

Quote
Theory 1 - Cymatics

Sound is essentially a resonance, a vibration and sound affects the energy it travels through, and any matter that it comes into contact with.

Same as described above.

Quote
Theory 2 - Hyperdimensional Physics

This is a very complex theory, first mooted by 19th century scientists

In essence, hyperdimensional physics is based upon traditional mathematical and geometrical formulas which are then altered to introduce additional unseen dimensions where energy can be created or lost.

The article then goes on to inform about other big hexagons on other planets, namely on Mars and Jupiter.

And then another article describing new higher res images: newbielink:http://www.universetoday.com/2008/10/13/violent-polar-cyclones-on-saturn-imaged-in-unprecidented-detail-by-cassini/ [nonactive]

Quote
Tony DelGenio of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and Cassini imaging team member explains the scene: "What looked like puffy clouds in lower resolution images [from 2006] are turning out to be deep convective structures seen through the atmospheric haze. One of them has punched through to a higher altitude and created its own little vortex."


Then an article about a danish university being able to reproduce similar rotating polygons in liquid:

newbielink:http://www.physorg.com/news66924222.html [nonactive]

Regards,
Rickard
 

Offline Mr. Scientist

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The Hexagon on Saturn
« Reply #20 on: 29/12/2008 07:00:16 »
I have my bets it is atmospheric. Have you ever observed the wonderful hexagon-like pattern created by tornado's?
 

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The Hexagon on Saturn
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