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Weird hexagon on Saturn

There's no life as we know it on Saturn. The giant, ringed planet doesn't even have a surface. It's composed almost entirely of gas. But NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spied a strange geometric shape at Saturn's north pole. It's a hexagon, and a big one - twice as wide as the Earth. It has formed in the planet's atmosphere surrounding the pole. Here's the story on SpaceWeather.com

It's been spotted before. The Voyager spacecraft sent back photos of the same phenomenon back in 1980. Here's the Voyager image (left), alongside a Hubble photo (right).  But the thing still has scientists baffled. It could be some sort of polar vortex, like Earth's. Except that ours is a circle. The best explanation so far relates the hexagon to a phenomenon noticed in spinning buckets of water. Spin them fast enough, and the water sloshes to the sides of the bucket, leaving an air space in the center which, at increasing speeds, assumes a regular geometric shape.

Just how that relates to Saturn's spinning atmosphere isn't clear yet, but it seems like they ought to be related somehow. One thing seems safe to say: It's not a Saturnian star fort.

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