CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Saturn's Hexagon Reappears

This movie from Cassini, made possible only as Saturn's north pole emerged from winter darkness, shows new details of the hexagon-shaped jet stream that has long puzzled scientists. (News release can be found here.)

Dec 9, 2009: Spring Unveils Saturn's Hexagon - This movie from Cassini, made possible only as Saturn's north pole emerged from winter darkness, shows new details of a jet stream that follows a hexagon-shaped path and has long puzzled scientists.
Alliance Member Comments
M. Lee Hudson (Feb 6, 2010 at 11:44 AM):
This structure is secondary to (and in sympathetic resonance with) the pervading crystalline structure of cosmic space-time. That is why the hexagon pattern remains stationary and is independent of Saturn's own rotation. The effect results from the interaction between Saturn's atmosphere (composed of a unique mix of kinetically energized frozen crystals) and the hidden framework of multi-dimensional space-time--which imposes its (root) geometry onto Saturn's atypical system, which happens to be conducive to the effect. To consider a 3-dimensional analogy, light directed from a projector onto a distant flat screen forms an amplified image that reflects the much smaller pattern imprinted on the film.
NeKto (Dec 22, 2009 at 10:07 AM):
Like PolishBear i was thinking something deep was generating a standing wave, as billclawson hypothesised. the one thing i know is "deep" is the offset between the rotational axis and the magnetic axis. but if that is causing the hexagon on the north pole why no hexagon on the south? if the magnetic axis and the rotational axis do not cross near the center of the planet, then the "blender" effect could produce a resonant standing wave at one pole but not the other.
can anyone at Ciclops tell me what falsifies my hypothesis so i can try something else?
billclawson (Dec 21, 2009 at 3:24 PM):
I'm betting the hexagon is basically a standing wave. I wonder if this is a feature of Saturn's atmosphere or gas giant atmosphere's in general, or does it have something to do with the acoustics of Saturn's atmosphere in particular.
marko (Dec 11, 2009 at 4:51 AM):
While a likely contributing factor, magnetic field lines are characteristically random and volatile when viewed from the poles of the source of magnetism. They do not form reliable constant and uniform geometric patterns. Even their characteristic torus structure, when viewed in side profile [equatorial], is subject to substantial fluctuation.
Islandguy (Dec 10, 2009 at 6:08 AM):
I would be suprised if anything else but a magnetic field (same field that causes the spokes in my opinion) generated by electric flows is the source of this geometry.
marko (Dec 10, 2009 at 3:41 AM):
Is it possible that we are not merely seeing a single 6-sided cell - but the interaction of a central polar cell….. and 6 more that surround it? This is the usual explanation for hexagonal forms in nature [beehive, vegetation, cell division].

If so is there any [additional] tangible evidence of this? - If large cells exist at lower latitudes, perhaps their relative motion is slowed by turbulence, making it harder for additional cells to form at yet lower latitudes?

Or - while a form of 'fluid dynamics' these systems might be seen as "mother-cells" - fluid systems that act almost like continental drift, taking an entire sub system of storms with them on their travels round the globe? The turbulent interaction of this upper level of weather forms the banding we are more familiar with and conceals the lower structure from view.

Just a thought. Forgive me if this has already been considered and dismissed, and I have simple missed such discussion.
PCPete (Dec 9, 2009 at 5:35 PM):
Forget fluid dynamics or inerial effects close to the pole - I don't suppose there are any giant bees on Saturn? :)
PolishBear (Dec 9, 2009 at 2:34 PM):
I'm no physicist, but sometimes I wonder if the hexagon could be caused by some kind of fluid dynamics deep inside Saturn, something peculiar to rapidly-rotating gas giants.

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