N00198390 Cassini snaps photos of vortex at Saturns north pole

Cassini just made a pass over Saturn's north pole, where it found a swirling vortex at the center of the planet's Northern Hexagon

Saturn has some interesting features, including a hexagonal cloud pattern which mysteriously persists in the north pole region. At the center of this cloud pattern, which scientists believe may be caused by standing cloud formations, there is a massive vortex, which Cassini has just photographed from a distance of 361,000 km. The image was taken through an infrared filter.

N00198366 Cassini snaps photos of vortex at Saturns north pole

Not a hurricane I want to get stuck in…

 

The vortex, though quite intimidating, is tiny compared to the rest of the planet. Below, you'll see it as a small mark at the center of the hexagon, and just for reference, the straight edges of that hexagon are about 13,800km long, longer than the diameter of Earth.

 

original Cassini snaps photos of vortex at Saturns north pole

The hexagon is the… hexagonal structure of a lighter color towards the edges of the image