The hits just keep rolling in from Cassini. This semi-polar view of Saturn is a knockout, especially with the artistic shadow.
Because the full image is 4000 pixels wide, we can easily make out the hexagonal cloud wall at Saturn’s north pole. The oddly perfect geometric shape is the width of two Earths, and scientists have been aware of it since Voyager 2 flew by the planet in 1981. But it was only last year, when Saturn’s spring arrived for the first time since Cassini began its explorations, that the north pole was illuminated enough for us to see what is happening inside that hexagon.
At its center is a raging hurricane 2,000 kilometers (1250 miles) wide, with cloud speeds of 530 kilometers per hour (330 mph). You can see a false color closeup of it here.
NASA/JPL produced a neat little video on the topic, which is worth a look for many reasons, not the least of which is watching the mesmerizing movements of the hurricane’s wall clouds. Wow.
On a different topic — judging from the comments on my last post, some readers are thinking that I am bowing out of blogging, or at least going to a “once in a blue moon” schedule. That is not the plan, since I enjoy this too much to give it up completely. Wallpaper Mondays are still on the menu, with one or two additional posts throughout the week. In fact I already have my next two posts planned. It seems that when the pressure is off, the desire springs up. Funny how that works.
(Click the image to cronate.)