content long 17-August-2018 18:36:43

Winners France

16-18 years old: The hexagon at Saturn's north pole

Author: Louis Demiot

I am a French student participating in the Cassini Scientist for a Day Contest. I have chosen target number three, because this target is, for me, an amazing opportunity to study one of the most interesting mysteries of Saturn: its hexagon.

Actually, a lot of theories have been introduced, with success or without, but none of them were finally confirmed as the global scientist community theory. This is why I am convinced that Cassini must head towards target number 3. The Hexagon of Saturn is an incredible weather phenomenon located around the North Pole of the planet. It is a persisting hexagonal cloud pattern, whose origins and mechanisms are still not explained by consensus, despite numerous theories. The hexagon has been discovered by the Voyager Mission, from the USA, in 1981, and revisited in 2006 by the Cassini Mission. The huge cloud formation measures nearly thirty-two thousand kilometers wide, almost five times the radius of the Earth. Moreover, we know that the clouds in the hexagon move really fast, over three-hundred and twenty kilometers per hour. Target number three would allow scientists to work with new pictures, infrared images or videos. These new elements, in their hands, would become new information, new details, and an important help to build a solid theory in the purpose of an international consensus about the hexagon's formation.

Studying the hexagon of Saturn would permit to understand the origin and the formation of the hexagon, but, going further, it could award us to know when the storm began, and how long it will be active. By studying the differences with the images and videos previously acquired, and the evolution of clouds trajectories and directions, we would be able to say when the clouds started to form a hexagon, and when it will disappear. Maybe we would determine it is eternal, but in any situation, the target number three must be chosen. Another fairly important element must be dealt with, actually, a hexagon is observed at the North Pole of Saturn, but not at the South Pole. The reason of the northern hexagon's presence is not already known, but the non-presence of another one around the South Pole shall indicate us a difference of structure under the clouds, between the northern and the southern hemispheres of Saturn. For the moment, the consensus about Saturn's structure is the presence of liquid hydrogen under the gaseous hydrogen clouds. The problem, then, is to know how the formation of a hexagon at the North Pole, and only at the North Pole is possible, with normally a homogeneous liquid hydrogen surface.

By studying new elements coming from Saturn's hexagon, such as new pictures, new infrared images, new videos, scientists would have new possibilities, new chances, to understand the hexagon of Saturn, its origins, its duration, its hypothetical end, or hypothetical eternity, and maybe so much more from a firsthand perspective. That is why target number three is the target I choose, with conviction and confidence.

Last Update: 19 May 2017

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