Leigh Brackett’s Land – The Vortex of Saturn

Polar vortex on Saturn extends higher into atmosphere than thought.

hexagon

Researchers have generally regarded the 20,000-mile-wide (32,000 kilometers) hexagon — a jet stream composed of air moving at about 200 mph (320 km/h) — as a lower-atmosphere phenomenon, restricted to the clouds of Saturn’s troposphere.

But the bizarre structure actually extends about 180 miles (300 km) above those cloud tops, up into the stratosphere, at least during the northern spring and summer, a new study suggests. [Stunning Photos: Saturn’s Weird Hexagon Vortex Storms]

The hexagon, which surrounds a smaller circular vortex situated at the north pole, has existed for at least 38 years; NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft spotted the sharp-cornered feature when they flew by Saturn in 1980 and 1981, respectively.

Way Cool.

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