Stunning new views of swirling storms and hexagon at Saturn’s north pole

The dramatic, swirling storms at Saturn’s north pole. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

Addendum: there is also now a beautiful colour version of one of Cassini’s hexagon photos here, thanks to Jason Major.

The Cassini spacecraft has been sending back amazing images of Saturn and its moons on a regular basis, and some new ones just taken yesterday are no exception.

The photos show massive storms swirling around the north pole of the gas giant planet, as well as the huge now-famous hexagon-shaped band of clouds surrounding these storms. In the wider field of view images, the huge storms look like a small circular area in the middle of the hexagon.

Even just as raw images right now, and in black and white, the visual effect is almost surreal. The images were taken from a distance of about 361,488 kilometres (224,618 miles).

Wider field of view image showing the huge hexagon-shaped band of clouds surrounding the north pole; the storms are the small circular area in the middle. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

These phenomena have been seen before at both the north and south poles, but previously the ones at the north pole were only visible in infared light, since the region was in darkness at the time, several years ago. The new images however, in regular visible light, are stunning.

Additional images and larger versions can be seen here.

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Paul Scott Anderson is a freelance space writer with a life-long passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which is a chronicle of planetary exploration. He also publishes The Exoplanet Report e-paper. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now also currently write for AmericaSpace and He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, has been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.

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