content long 17-October-2017 11:47:35

Winners Spain

13-15 years old: The hexagon at Saturn's north pole

 Author: Julia Cepedello Cuerva

I have decided to choose the Saturn´s Hexagon for different reasons. There is nothing like that hexagon in any other known world.
Saturn´s nothern hexagon is a cloud band circling Saturn´s pole, first observed in 1980. This pattern has persisted for more than a Saturn year.
This structure has some key characteristics: the hexagon is associated with an eastward zonal jet moving at more than 200 mph and the hexagon rotates at roughly the same rate at Saturn´s several rotation. While it can be observed individual storms and cloud patterns at different speeds within the hexagon. There is a massive hurricane tightly centered on the north pole, with an eye about 50 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth (A hurricane on Earth typically lasts a week, but this has been here for decades, and who knows, maybe centuries).

In 2015, some scientists created a model that explain what we see. This model (baroclinic model) is likely, but there is a lot of details that are not explained. Somebody thinks that when we will know Saturn´s atmosphere vertical structure, we will understand the hexagon.

In November 2016 Cassini encountered Titan, reducing its closest aproach to 158,000 km. This provided a 24 hour period for clear, sunlit viewing of the north polar region. Besides, in April 2017, it will be a final Titan pass sending the Cassini orbiter less than 3,000 km over the saturnian clouds.It will obtain the highest resolution images of Saturn ever obtained. So the scientists will have a chance to study it clearly.

The discovery will reveal the reflection of light in relation to its materials and their movements with each other. It could be used to reveal quantitative information on the haze and clouds particles altitude, density, radius, composition...

Moreover, this could provide valuable information for calculating the likelihood of this happening on other planet.

We will also know more information about how we can control hurricanes in Earth.


Last Update: 19 May 2017

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