CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
The Persistent Hexagon

Saturn's north polar hexagon appears to be a long-lived feature of the atmosphere, having been spotted in images of Saturn in the early 1980s, again in the 1990s, and then by Cassini in the past several years. The persistent nature of the hexagon in imaging observations implies that it is present throughout Saturn's 29-year seasonal cycle.

Two sides of the hexagon are seen here. This view was obtained from about 67 degrees above the equator.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 25, 2008 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 566,000 kilometers (352,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 31 kilometers (19 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: October 8, 2008 (PIA 10486)
Image/Caption Information
  The Persistent Hexagon
PIA 10486

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Alliance Member Comments
ANAKA HURAKAN (Dec 4, 2009 at 9:17 PM):
Ce'CalCali you now have e mail hopefully that will allow you to stablize this universe.867thousan 2 hundred and 29 refugees have arrived from the crab nebula why dont you make an urgeny call to cronus
NeKto (Nov 30, 2009 at 9:23 AM):
Thank you Carolyn.
i was thinking that before Voyager we had little or no idea there was anything this interesting going on in the Satern system. As soon as Cassini arived we started to find out there are TONS of fascinating things going on in the Saturn system.
every image has the potential to suport or falsify any number of hypotheses. The jets on Enceladus are fascinating, but so are the equitorial mountains of Iapetus, as well as the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan. then there is this huge standing wave system that has me totally baffled.
our stalwart little robot friend way out there and all of you on the imaging team have given us gifts whose full value may never be determined. i am so glad i am here to see this.
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Nov 28, 2009 at 9:56 AM):
Nekto:'s coming soon!
NeKto (Nov 28, 2009 at 9:45 AM):
When do we get our first post equinox view of the hexagon?
NeKto (Oct 8, 2008 at 12:12 PM):
i've been waiting for this.
Are there any hypotheses out there to explain this huge standing wave?