The hexagon of Saturn: a surprising phenomenon

Lakar Iraizoz, Oihane

Elhuyar Zientzia

The hexagonal structure of the north pole of Saturn has been studied by UPV-EHU for six years by Ed. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Thirty years ago a curious hexagonal structure was discovered that surrounds the north pole of Saturn. Now, the UPV Planetary Science Group has analyzed and measured the phenomenon in detail for six years and, among other achievements, has been able to establish its rotation period. It has been seen that this period could correspond to the planet itself. In fact, the only planet in Saturn's solar system is the one that does not know how long it takes to rotate. Likewise, it has been shown that the hexagon is a very stable structure and that the seasonal changes in Saturn have no incidence, despite its hardness. The axis of the planet has a 27 degree tilt, so it usually has polar nights of more than seven years, followed by a long period of 23 years with variable illumination.

The research has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and has appeared on cover. Among other things, since 2004 the spacecraft Cassini, in orbit around Saturn, has used very high resolution images to carry out its investigations and measurements.

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