content long 22-October-2017 14:03:02

Winners Spain

10-12 years old: The hexagon at Saturn's north pole

 Authors: María Piñar Pérez, David Martínez Moreno

We have chosen object 3, the hexagon in the north pole of Saturn, because we believe that it is still not much investigated and its exact origin is not known. This polygon is a stream of persistent gas, guided by a standing wave that forms the hexagon, which does not move longitudinally. This phenomenon was sighted by the Voyager spacecraft between 1981 and 1982, and confirmed by the Cassini spacecraft in 2006. When it was discovered it was already formed, what is not known if it is a perennial phenomenon or is ephemeral, and in the latter case what is its date of origin. One possible theory says that it is formed because there is a latitudinal gradient, that is, a large variation of the wind in this area that covers 40800 km of diameter approximately, this distance is greater than the diameter of the Earth of 12756 km. It is located in the north pole of the planet, however the south pole lacks of an hexagon or any other similar polygon, but it has a vortex. The hexagon does not travel longitudinally in parallel to the equator, instead it is rotating in the pole counterclockwise. The complete rotation lasts 10 hours 39 minutes and 24 seconds. We believe that this phenomenon should be investigated since questions such as why this phenomenon does not occur in other areas such as the south pole of the planet or the poles of Jupiter are not solved. Possibly the hexagon is inscribed in a circumference parallel to the equator, which would be like the limit of the circular water tank in the experiment of the University of Oxford, in which they studied a liquid with different speed of rotation in the center and the periphery. The result of this experiment was the creation of polygonal shapes of which the most common is the hexagon. From this experiment was created the theory that it is formed from a latitudinal gradient, since according to this the hexagon should rotate at different speed in the center than in the periphery, and so it seems that it does.

In the hexagon, a spiral in the anti-clockwise direction can be seen, besides that in the interior small particles abound and large particles scarce, unlike the outside where the opposite happens. Another theory is that the bright clouds that form the spiral are the remains of a compact cloud discarded by the speed at the center of the vortex.

We believe that the Casinni probe and later probes should investigate the hexagon to confirm or discard current theories about its origin, shape, inner and outer density difference or the spiral it contains.

We believe that we will be able to investigate and facilitate the total unveiling of this mystery which is the hexagon of Saturn.

Last Update: 19 May 2017

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