Swirling Vortex of Saturn

Saturn's Hexagon

At the centre of the famous 'pentagon' situated at Saturn's north pole (pictured above) lies a swirling vortex of cloud, and yesterday (November 27, 2012) the Cassini space-probe took a series of 'close-up' photos (that is, from just 361,000 kilometers away). I threw together a quick (non-real time) animation from Cassini's raw images archive - click on it if you want to see the bigger version (6MB):

'Looking down' upon the turbulent surface via these images, I couldn't help but be reminded of more than a few planetary descents in science fiction novels and movies, most notably the Prometheus capsule in Stanislav Lem's Solaris, the 'express elevator to hell' from Aliens, and definitely Operation Deep Sounding in Paul McAuley's The Quiet War. Imagine navigating your ship into the jaws of that maelstrom...

(via @elakdawalla / The Planetary Society)


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emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
44 min 45 sec

So much of the visible universe is a screeching howling storm. How rare and precious is this agreeable little rock upon which we perch. Everything is alive though, so even the hellish maelstroms are vessels for some sort of consciousness, but man can we ever look at that thrashing stuff out there and not feel afraid of it?

tuxekan's picture
Member since:
30 May 2009
Last activity:
4 years 37 weeks

I've seen the pictures many times before, but maybe it is too early and my brain hasn't woken up, but when i look at the pictures of the storm right now I feel a deep existential terror!

Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
10 weeks 14 hours

Sheer beauty...

All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake