Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Saturn's north polar hexagon (animation)

Filed under pretty pictures, Cassini, atmospheres, explaining science, Saturn, animation

Go Back

Saturn's north polar hexagon (animation) This movie of Saturn's north pole was taken by Cassini's VIMS spectrometer at a mid-infrared wavelength of 5 microns. It was winter at Saturn's north pole; all illumination is thermal radiation (heat) welling up from Saturn's depths.


Some of the heat radiation is blocked by clouds floating in Saturn's atmosphere at about 75 kilometers below the cloud tops that can be seen in visible wavelengths. The pressure at that level is about three times Earth's atmospheric pressure. The patterns in the image are created by alternating cloudy and clear areas. The images have been contrast-reversed so that the clouds show up as bright spots, while open areas appear dark. The 37 frames in the animation (only 13 of which are shown in the thumbnail version) were taken over a period of about an hour, as Saturn rotated about 30 degrees.

Learn more at Photojournal. There is a higher-resolution still version.

Original image data dated on or about November 10, 2006.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.


Other Related Images


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!