CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Saturnian Hexagon Collage

This collage of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere and rings as viewed with four different spectral filters. Each filter is sensitive to different wavelengths of light and reveals clouds and hazes at different altitudes.

Clockwise from top left, the filters used are sensitive to violet (420 nanometers), red (648 nanometers), near-infrared (728 nanometers) and infrared (939 nanometers) light.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016, at a distance of about 400,000 miles (640,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 95 miles (153 kilometers) per pixel.

The images have been enlarged by a factor of two. The original versions of these images, as sent by the spacecraft, have a size of 256 pixels by 256 pixels. Cassini's images are sometimes planned to be compressed to smaller sizes due to data storage limitations on the spacecraft, or to allow a larger number of images to be taken than would otherwise be possible.

These images were obtained about two days before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn's main rings during its penultimate mission phase.

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/SSI
Released: December 6, 2016 (PIA 21053)
Image/Caption Information
  Saturnian Hexagon Collage
PIA 21053

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Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Jan 1, 2017 at 4:55 AM):
of all the things i have read about the hexagon, i have no recollection of any mention of it size. how wide is it side to side? (+or- 100 miles)
Robert (Dec 10, 2016 at 6:16 AM):
Could the hexagon be shaped by the effects of a Reuleaux Polygon? I've seen an animation and a video of a Reuleaux Triangle outlining the shape of a square due to off-axis rotation. Apparently (meaning I haven't seen it) a Reuleaux polygon can outline the shape of a hexagon.

In three dimensions at Saturn's pole the increasing curvature of the atmosphere gradually meeting at the axis of rotation might have a similar effect.

Just a thought.
NeKto (Dec 8, 2016 at 11:00 AM):
is there any detectable chemical difference between what we see inside the hexagon and outside of it?