CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Unveiling the Hexagon

Saturn's north pole hexagon, seen here in an image from Cassini, has been around for awhile. It was seen in Voyager images in the early 1980s, in ground-based telescopic images in the 1990s, and now with Cassini. More and more of this unusually shaped feature will be revealed to Cassini's high resolution cameras as spring slowly comes to the northern hemisphere in the planet's 29-year orbit.

The entire hexagon was imaged in thermal infrared by Cassini in Oct. 2006 (see PIA09188).

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 21, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 930,000 kilometers (578,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 54 degrees. Image scale is 52 kilometers (32 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: February 20, 2009 (PIA 10583)
Image/Caption Information
  Unveiling the Hexagon
PIA 10583

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