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The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Saturn's north polar hexagon

Saturn's north polar hexagon

NASA / JPL / U. Arizona

Saturn's north polar hexagon
This image 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 image has been contrast-reversed so that the glouds show up as bright spots, while open areas appear dark.

Learn more about the image at Photojournal. There's also an animated version.

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

Original image data dated on or about October 29, 2006

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