CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Saturn's Polar Jet

Earth's jet stream is a subject of intense interest and concern thanks to its effects on our weather. Saturn's polar jet stream, seen here, causes no such worries for Earthlings, so we can simply marvel at its graceful form.

This atmospheric feature was first observed by Voyager and was dubbed 'the hexagon'. To see more of this feature, see PIA10486 and PIA11682.

This view looks toward the north poleof Saturn from about 53 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 23, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 590,000 miles (949,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 52 degrees. Image scale is 35 miles (57 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini Solstice 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 Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: December 16, 2013 (PIA 17141)
Image/Caption Information
  Saturn's Polar Jet
PIA 17141

Avg Rating: 9.40/10

Full Size 1016x1016:
PNG 432 KB

Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Feb 1, 2014 at 7:25 AM):
i keep wondering if there might be some substructure that maintains this hexagon. perhaps the offset of the magnetic axis from the rotation axis? that might stir things up enough to make the north pole look like the top of a blender.
no matter what the cause, the phenomenon is fun to look at and fun to speculate about.
Gort (Dec 23, 2013 at 9:36 PM):
Gravitational resonance?
NeKto (Dec 17, 2013 at 2:15 PM):
what could be maintaining that shape? any viable hypotheses out there?