In 1980 and 1981 NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 space probes passed over the planet Saturn. Among their numerous discoveries they observed a strange, hexagon-shaped structure in the planet’s uppermost clouds surrounding its north pole.
The hexagon remained virtually static, without moving, vis-à-vis the planet’s overall rotation. [T]he clouds were moving rapidly inside the hexagon in an enclosed jet stream and were being dragged by winds travelling at over 400 km/h.
After measuring the positions of the hexagon vertices with great precision, they determined that its movement remains extremely stable, and on the basis of the cloud movements, that the jet stream inside it remains unchanged.
So, what exactly is going on?
Saturn’s polar atmosphere goes through intense variations depending on the season, though this doesn’t seem to affect the jet stream in the slightest.
It’s likely that what is holding it stable is a reflection of the depths of Saturn’s gas giant atmosphere, meaning that the Great Hexagon may actually enable us to garner a much better picture of Saturn’s innards.
Via The Daily Galaxy.