Springtime on Saturn
August 10, 2014 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Storm Chasing on Saturn with Cassini [viz. cf.] - "The sun is slowly rising over Saturn's north pole, exposing an immense six-sided hurricane. The storm, big enough to swallow four Earths, was first spotted by the Voyager missions in the early 1980s. [Cassini] will be passing directly over the north pole with its cameras pointing down later this month." (previously 1,2)
posted by kliuless (9 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

Dusty [Philip Seymour Hoffman]: "Ha Ha! It's the wonder of nature, baby!"
posted by Fizz at 7:37 AM on August 10

Ah, nice to get an explanation for the hexagon hurricane. What a magnificent phenomenon.
posted by bouvin at 7:37 AM on August 10

posted by mondo dentro at 7:40 AM on August 10

posted by I have no idea at 8:00 AM on August 10

Cassini may be the one thing in the solar system more impressive than Saturn itself. wow.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:45 AM on August 10

APOD recently shared this 2012 Cassini image of the hexagon which is lovely for its subtle details.

I'm not satisfied with the NYT article's explanation for the hexagon. I can understand how friction in the moving atmosphere would cause a standing wave. But why 6 sides? Why not 3? or 200?

Related: Keck recently imaged storms on Uranus.
posted by Nelson at 3:44 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

> But why 6 sides? Why not 3? or 200?

Nelson, it's a function of the difference in rotation rates between the two bands - in this case, the planet and the jetstream. There's a really nice tabletop model for this - take a look at this old comment.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:00 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

Thanks RedOrGreen. Apparently different speeds produce different shapes. The video in the linked comment is gone, here's another video of the simulation.
posted by Nelson at 8:40 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]

First off: Whoa, crazy, beautiful. Nicely done, Saturn.

Secondly: That was really well produced. Kudos to the NYTs.
posted by gwint at 7:38 AM on August 12

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