back to article Blighty's winter storms are PUNY compared to Saturn's 200mph, 15,000 mile wide HEXACANE

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has delivered some insightful images of a monster storm raging at Saturn's north pole - a six sided-beast 'wider than two Earths' and within which winds reach an umbrella-shredding 350km/h. Cassini false-colour view of the six-sided storm. Pic: NASA In a series of false-colour snaps (animated …

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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Boffin

    Security fixing...

    You'll be needing a bloody big screwdriver, then!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Security fixing...

      What we find inside when we get the top off worries me. And I'll bet we put the screw somewhere safe and can't find it when we try and put it back together.

      1. qwertyuiop

        Re: Security fixing...

        It rolled under the settee...

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  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A hex upon thee

    Plenty of hex screws lying about the Antrim coast.

    Just follow the signs for the Giants Causeway.

    1. richardcox13

      Re: A hex upon thee

      However they don't handle the central pin added for "security".

  5. Chris Miller
    Thumb Up

    Umbrella-shredding

    Lovin' it!

    But (donning my standard pedant's hat) your umbrella gets shredded here on Earth because you're standing on solid ground and the wind's blowing relative to you. On Saturn you'd be in the atmosphere. so the force from Saturnian wind would depend on wind shear and (crucially) atmospheric density. I've no idea how dense the atmosphere is at the altitudes at which this storm is raging - obviously deep down there are very high densities because of the enormous depths of the atmosphere and Saturn's higher gravity. I may do some Googling on the topic if I get some time later on.

  6. King Jack

    Bees have been disappearing, now we know where they are going.

  7. Alister
    Stop

    Blighty's winter storms are PUNY compared to Saturn's

    Yeah maybe... but you don't have to dodge flying trees on Saturn!

  8. deadlockvictim

    North Pole

    Do any of the astronomers / planetary specialists know if the pole has anything to do with the location of the storm? If so, would that indicate magnetic particles in the atmosphere?

    I somehow can't imagine that Saturn's poles are much colder that it's equator.

    1. Mike Richards

      Re: North Pole

      The storm is down to atmospheric circulation just as the Antarctic has a large circumpolar vortex, so it's not magnetic.

      You're quite right, Saturn has very little temperature difference between the equator and poles because most of its atmospheric heat is coming from an internal (poorly understood going on 'no bloody idea') heat source.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: North Pole

        internal (poorly understood going on 'no bloody idea') heat source.

        Something undergoing a phase change such as gas or liquid to solid, both down in the planet's depths. Outside chance that it's a low level of fusion (D-D), or there's a lot of radioactive Potassium in a rocky core that theory says Saturn shouldn't have.

        Lots of hydrocarbons, enormous pressure: what are the odds on Saturn's atmosphere concealing the Solar System's second-biggest and still-growing diamond as its core?

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Joke

    Looks like a copyright symbol on that storm (top image, lower part of hexagon)

    SOMEBODY HAS COPYRIGHTED SATURN!!!!!

    Quick! Who can we blame?

    1. Richard 120

      Another hexagon?

      That copyright symbol, it looks to me like another hexagon and from the bottom picture it appears to be another weather formation (maelstrom/vortex?)

      Even storms encompassed in storms on Saturn are mightier than the whole of Blighty's winter storms...

  10. Bunbury
    Joke

    Looks like a "female" connector to me

    is the male on Uranus?

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: is the male on Uranus?

      That's probably a question you should ask Heather Couper. Maybe with a follow up question of "How many Mars's can you fit in Uranus?".

  11. Mark 110
    Boffin

    Why a hexagon?

    Why is it hexagonal? Anyone?

    1. Joe H.
      Pint

      Re: Why a hexagon?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexagon

      According to the above, it is the most efficient basic structure found in nature, anyone else want to weigh in on this?

      Beer because it's Friday!

      1. Michael Dunn

        Re: Why a hexagon?

        I seem to recall that Buckminster Fuller was largely into hexagons (hexaga?) when devising geodesic spheres - (hex-penta-hex-penta....). tensegrity at work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why a hexagon?

      A very good question.

      From the article: NASA explains that the storm "folds into a six-sided shape because the hexagon [in the image] is a stationary wave that guides the path of the gas in the jet".

      Which essentially says that it's six-sided because it's a Hexagon! I've added the omission/qualifier because without it the statement appears to be redefining the meaning of "hexagon" to mean a "stationary wave".

      So why is it hexagonal? Well, I suspect that it's just an imaging artifact due to the photo being a composite of six images; the entire polar hemisphere can't be photographed in a single shot because half of it will be in shadow and two thirds of what isn't in shadow will still be significantly darker than the middle third that most closely faces the Sun; to get an evenly illuminated image, as shown, you need to take multiple photos and stitch them together.

      So there are not six nodes but just one, which is probably due to solar heating at the boundary of the storm facing the Sun with the result that it shifts a few degrees of latitude further away from the poles but which stays in the same place i.e. facing the Sun, as the planet revolves.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Why a hexagon?

        Why can't it be because of a years-stable period-3 wave in the planet's equivalent of Earth's jet-stream. Watch long enough, we may see the vertices move, assuming there's anything more stable to define their location relative to (which on a gas giant, I doubt! )

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why a hexagon?

          I stand corrected - you're probably right: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn's_hexagon

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