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November 18, 2013 - Casting a Hex on Saturn

Casting a Hex on Saturn This Cassini image of the north polar region of Saturn shows both an aurora and the underlying atmosphere, seen at two different wavelengths of infrared light. Visible directly below the aurora is the hexagonal cloud structure first noted by the Voyager spacecraft and still visible by Cassini. The hexagon is about 25,000 km (15,000 mi) across, large enough that four Earths could fit inside it. The strong brightness of the hexagon feature indicates that it is primarily a clearing in the clouds, which extends deep into the atmosphere, about 75 km (47 mi) below the clouds and haze seen in visible wavelengths. In 2010, researchers created a similar structure in a laboratory experiment and concluded that the hexagonal shape is related to a jet stream in Saturn’s atmosphere.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

Weekly Calendar

November 18-24, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 18

Leonid meteor shower

1923: Alan Shepard born
1989: Cosmic Background Explorer launched
2013: MAVEN spacecraft launched to Mars

Moon phase Tuesday 19

1969: Apollo 12 makes second lunar landing
1996: STS-80 Columbia launched
1997: STS-87 Columbia launched
2005: Hayabusa spacecraft makes first liftoff from an asteroid

Moon phase Wednesday 20

1889: Edwin Hubble born
1998: Zarya module launched, first element of International Space Station
2002: First Delta IV launched
2004: Swift spacecraft launched

Moon phase Thursday 21

Moon phase Friday 22

Jupiter 5° north of Moon
Moon at apogee

1989: STS-33 Discovery launched

Moon phase Saturday 23

1977: Meteosat 1 launched
1983: 149-day Salyut 7 mission ends
2002: STS-113 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Sunday 24

1947: First Aerobee rocket launch
: STS-44 Atlantis launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.