National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Multimedia
Spring at the North Pole
Spring at the North Pole (click to enlarge)
 
 

Spring at the North Pole

The north pole of Saturn, in the fresh light of spring, is revealed in this color image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The north pole was previously hidden from the gaze of Cassini's imaging cameras because it was winter in the northern hemisphere when the spacecraft arrived at the Saturn system in 2004.

A hurricane-like storm circling Saturn's north pole at about 89 degrees north latitude is inside the famous "hexagon" feature, which scientists think is a wandering jet stream that whips around the north pole at about 98 m per second (220 miles per hour). It folds into a six-sided shape because the hexagon is a stationary wave that guides the path of the gas in the jet. The hexagon borders occur at about 77 degrees north latitude and the feature is wider than two Earths. Saturn's rings can be seen at the upper right of the image.

Images with red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural-color view, which is what the human eye would see if we were there at Saturn. The image here was acquired with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on 27 Nov. 2012 at a distance of approximately 418,000 km (260,000 miles) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 96 degrees. Image scale is 28.6 km (18 miles) per pixel.

A false-color version of this image can be seen at PIA14946.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute



Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 29 Apr 2013