You have never seen Saturn’s weird hexagon storm like this.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sent back more jaw-dropping photos of Saturn and its huge, bizarre hexagonal storm that swirls around the planet’s north pole.
The images, taken Saturday and Sunday, show scenes from high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, including one of the planet’s strange hexagon-shaped storm. Each side of the hexagon is about as wide as Earth. A circular storm lies at the center, at the planet’s north pole.
The hexagon is actually a current of air in Saturn’s upper atmosphere, similar to Earth’s jet streams. It has winds estimated at 200 mph. Scientists don’t know how long the feature has existed, but they think because there are no landforms—such as mountains on Earth — to disrupt the weather pattern it may persist for a long time.
These are the first photos from the new phase of the Cassini mission, which began on Nov. 30. Each of the week-long orbits — 20 in all — carries the spacecraft high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere before sending it skimming past the outer edges of the planet’s main rings.
The images released this week were taken by a wide-angle camera at a distance of about 240,000 miles from Saturn.
The Cassini mission will continue through Sept. 15, 2017, at which point the spacecraft will take a final dive into Saturn’s atmosphere and burn up.