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) 19 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, 2014

Ah, nice to get an explanation for the hexagon hurricane. What a magnificent phenomenon.
posted by bouvin at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2014

posted by mondo dentro at 7:40 AM on August 10, 2014

posted by I have no idea at 8:00 AM on August 10, 2014

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, 2014

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, 2014 [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, 2014 [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, 2014 [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, 2014

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