Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

125,540 subscribers and counting ...

EarthSky // Science Wire, Space Release Date: Aug 12, 2014

The eye of Saturn

Like a giant eye, the great vortex at the north pole of planet Saturn stares back at the Cassini spacecraft as Cassini stares at it.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 2, 2014. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Earlier this month (August 4, 2014), NASA released this new image of Saturn’s hexagon – a persisting hexagonal cloud pattern around the planet’s north pole – taken by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft. The sides of the hexagon are about 13,800 kilometers (8,600 miles) long, which is longer than the Earth’s diameter. Measurements have sized the “eye” – the vortex at the center of the swirling hexagon – at a staggering 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).

The image above was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 2, 2014. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.2 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 8 miles (13 kilometers) per pixel.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturn’s north polar hexagon and vortex as well as rings (April 2, 2014). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Image credit: NASA

This image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012. In the image, red indicates low clouds and green indicates high ones. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 1 mile (2 kilometers) per pixel. Image credit: NASA

Via NASA