Ginormous Hexagon on Saturn?



There’s an extraordinary phenomenon going on over Saturn that’s stumped people for many years. Initially discovered in 1988, this curious hexagon was first acknowledged when scientists were looking over data from NASA’s Voyager flyby pictures of Saturn. It was officially confirmed to be true from NASA’s Cassini probes that inspected this mysterious gas giant planet.

If any of you were thinking that aliens could exist on Saturn, I’m sorry I have to crush your hopes and dreams, but the hexagon is really just a cloud pattern with a vortex swirling about inside of it. The approximate measurements of this 6-sided storm are astonishing! Each side of the hexagon is about 8,600 miles (13,800 km), which is more than the entire diameter of Earth! The whole shebang is a very colossal 20,000 miles wide (32,000 km)! It reaches 6o miles (100 km) deep into Saturn. The hexagonal cyclone is located on the north pole of this gas giant. The south pole does not host a hexagonal cloud pattern, but it does contain another vortex.

Many theories for this peculiar storm have been made. Some facts that were observed from the hexagon were that the points on the hexagon rotate around its center at almost exactly the same rate that the planet spins on its own axis. Creepy? Yes, and there’s more creepiness ahead: a jet stream air current, resembling types witnessed on our home planet Earth, appears to flow eastward at about 220 mph (360 km/h), tracing the outline of the hexagon. After creating simulations and models representing this, scientists came up with this explanation: winds under the cloud level help to maintain the form of the hexagon and also controls the hexagon’s drifting.

What do you think might cause the hexagon? Do you think that the scientists’ reasons are incorrect?  Lauren N., a Kraemer Middle School student, says, “Wow! That’s so amazing! I never even knew about the hexagon! That’s so cool! “