It seems that Saturn is simply kind of odd. It has a six-sided feature placed at its north pole. NASA has first seen it when the Voyager 2 spacecraft has gone to Saturn in 1981. This hexagon is very odd due to the fact that it only happens at the north pole. According to a new study, scientists have taken a look at Saturn’s gas in order to see what kind of planetary fluid is behind this structure.
Researchers did a computer simulation, which helped them in better understanding the physics of the hexagon. The atmospheric flows from Saturn create small and large vortexes near the north pole of the planet. There’s a horizontal jet that goes about 60 degrees latitude above the equator, which gets confined by these vortexes.
One of the things pointed out in the paper is that vortexes exist, but deep beneath the cloud tops, which means that they were invisible to the spacecraft that has flown over Saturn, and, also, invisible to the Cassini mission. After Voyager 2 came back to Earth, scientists began to believe that the hexagon could actually be caused by the subsurface cyclones.
Even if the observation from Cassini from 2004 and 2017 were of great help, scientists got to learn more about the fluid dynamics of the planet, and the theory about the subsurface vortexes didn’t really make any sense when the spacecraft didn’t find any signs of their existence.
Scientists did model simulations of the turbulent convection, which is what is happening when the material at the bottom of a thick substance of liquid or gar is hot, and the top is cool. The difference in temperature is what makes the material move in a circular up-down motion. Convection is actually what creates hurricanes and tornadoes here, on Earth.