What’s the one thing you least expect to find at the north pole of a gas giant? Well, I don’t know about you, but a giant rotating hexagonal cloud probably tops my list. Just recently, NASA’s Cassini probe took pictures of the formation, which is over Saturn’s northern pole, using an infrared camera, since the pole is currently too dark for visual images. More info on it at NASA’s website.
The most interesting aspect of this cloud, as you can see from pictures on the mission page linked above, is the fact that it’s a hexagon. Clouds don’t generally form into shapes like that, even at the poles. For instance, around Saturn’s southern pole, clouds form into swirls and other generally round shapes. So you can imagine how confused the experts have been looking at the pictures sent back by Cassini. However, it’s apparently possible to make such shapes by spinning things at certain speeds.
However, the excitement doesn’t stop with the cloud. No, instead of accepting that this is a freak natural event, some people have decided that NASA does know why the hexagon is there, and that they’re covering it up (for whatever strange reason). Not only that, but the hexagon is populated by aliens, who are using its powers to influence evil on Earth (what else are six-sided shapes good for?). I’m serious. People actually think this. If I could find more links, I’d put them up, but I think all the conspiracy sites have blocked me for being too rational. It’s a conspiracy!
Anyways, scientists are hoping to get actual visual images of the hexagon in a couple years, once Saturn’s north pole begins moving back into the sunlight. It’s definitely something taking a better look at.