Saturn’s Hexagonal Storm Is Pure Chaotic Beauty In New Cassini Images

Image: NASA
Image: NASA

Cassini’s last hurrah has been so bittersweet: On the one hand, it marks the end of a 20-year-long journey to explore Saturn and its moons. But the Grand Finale has also featured some of the most spectacular shots of the gas giant and its moons ever taken. It’s a complex cocktail of emotions.

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Today, the intrepid orbiter sent back some truly stellar pics of the planet’s most unusual feature: the raging hexagonal storm on its North Pole. As Gizmodo’s Maddie Stone has previously noted, the region contains at its center a “1,250 mile-wide hurricane,” swirling beautifully into oblivion. That hurricane on steroids is surrounded by a hexagonal jet streams, which give the entire north pole a unique geometric appearance.

Here’s the hexagon, up close and personal:

Image: NASA
Image: NASA
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Here it is again, but like, slightly different:

Image: NASA
Image: NASA

Okay, last one, I promise:

Image: NASA
Image: NASA
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Cassini is currently in the process of completing a ring-plane crossing in its 11th Grand Finale orbit, a series of orbits that send the spacecraft diving between the gas giant and its rings. We sure will miss Cassini’s updates after it plunges itself into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15th. Until then, we’ll take all the snap shots we can get.

Space Writer, Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

Rae - Those are beautiful. However, I’d argue that shape is the opposite of chaotic (i.e. “ordered”).