Officials from NASA report that Saturn is experiencing an odd phenomenon, namely color change on its the North Pole. The information was revealed last week by the Cassini spacecraft. The pictures show that the northern area of the planet turned gold from blue. The researchers are trying to find an explanation for the phenomenon.
There is a hexagonal area on Saturn’s North Pole, and it used to be blue. Images from Cassini, which started its mission twelve years ago, account for the previous color of the formation. The last picture of the blue hexagon was provided by the spacecraft in 2012. However, the new images reveal the change of color. Now Saturn’s North Pole is golden, like the rest of the planet.
There is another interesting thing about the northern area of Saturn. Data provided by Cassini also point out that there are particular cloud formations which were are unique in the whole Universe. They were not reported on any other planet. Researchers believe that these structures are linked to the phenomenon of color change on the hexagonal area of Saturn.
The once blue hexagonal formation was first revealed to scientists in the early 1980s, by the Voyager spacecraft. However, it was only the Cassini mission in 2004 the one that accounted for the existence of the clouds. They can also cause storms, but specialists still haven’t figure out yet how to explain the phenomenon.
A team of scientists, led by specialist Raúl Morales-Juberías, came up with a theory last year. They conducted experiments and simulations to get a closer look at the phenomena on Saturn. According to their study, the color change on the North Pole could have been triggered by the changing of the seasons.
Scientists explain that the hexagonal formation on Saturn’s North Pole consists of currents of air. If paired with the flow of gasses on the Planet, they cause seasonal changes and weather instability, as researchers state.
Previous studies account for the lack of aerosols at the former blue North Pole of Saturn. However, climate investigations show that summer is warmer on the ringed planet. This means that even its North Pole is exposed to more sunlight than before. Scientists believe that direct sunlight and aerosols are the main elements that triggered the change of color of the hexagonal area.
However, the Cassini mission is not over yet, and new information could be provided by the spacecraft.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia