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Hexagon Shaped Cloud on Saturn

  1. Oct 24, 2008 #1
    Here's a picture of it


    I found this very striking and am surprised that there has been so little talk about it. My best guess is that it has something to do with tidal forces being exerted by multiple moons. I'm especially suspicious about moons that have orbital resonance. I'm just speculating though, and am very perplexed by the odd shaped weather formation.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2008 #2
    I'd be willing to bet it has something to do with internal convection currents since it's only affecting the lower clouds. One thing that would backup this possibility is how JPL mentions that it may be tied to Saturns true (internal) rotation rate.

    JPL doesn't have much to say about it (not even a possible cause) but they do provide a nice gif animation. You can see how the upper/outer clouds are unaffected by it.

  4. Oct 24, 2008 #3


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    Gold Member

    Old news. I saw this years ago.

    I do believe this is a shot of the pole. That's the crux. The hexagon is better described (coincidentally enough) in polar coordinates. It is simply a harmonic sinusoidal wave - the wavelength is a whole multiple of the circumference.
  5. Oct 24, 2008 #4
    It's probably just another solution to the Navier-Stokes equation. Fluid dynamics can produce very weird effects.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2008
  6. Nov 12, 2008 #5
    Triangles, squares, pentagons... appear in rotating fluids, small and big which can be visible by inserting colors or dust. After learning that I could no longer decide is that big and unusual or ordinary occurrence on Saturn. Maybe it means that Saturn is not so chaotic. Here's one web link:
    http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/~cushman/books/GFD.html [Broken]

    Try matlab files in cdrom package, chapter 10.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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