Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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What the Hex

There is a spacecraft near Saturn these days you may have heard about. It’s called Cassini and it’s a new kind of outer space project in that it is a cooperative venture between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency (who even knew Italy had a space agency???). Anyway, Cassini has been giving us all sorts of new information about Saturn, but this latest photo is a stunner – yes, that’s a hexagonal cloud formation in the Saturnian atmosphere, circling the planet’s north pole. It’s about 15,000 miles across and almost 4 Earths could fit into it. Astronomers are at a loss to explain such a regular geometric form being created amidst such enormous turbulence. And note, this is no one-time event – other probes have caught glimpses of this same formation in other years, so this is a regular thing, though this is by far the best photo of it we’ve captured to date.

It calls to mind Hamlet’s line in act I, scene V: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” I look forward to the day when the theorists explain this one. Until that day, we will have the luxury of allowing our imaginations to run wild! Hmmm… hexagon = 6 sides, Saturn = 6 letters, Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun, there are 6 sectors in the Intergalactic Federation, Dromogon VI is regarded as the wisest of all the Federation chancellors … OK, maybe I made up the last two … maybe!

Or maybe I’m still under the influence of Galaxy Quest … maybe!

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