Cassini sends back intriguing pictures of Saturn from new ring-grazing orbit

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From The Los Angeles Times:

Talk about a glamour shot! NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has completed the first of its ring-grazing orbits and snapped stunning images of the strange hexagon-shaped jet stream at Saturn’s northern pole.

With less than a year left to go in its mission, Cassini’s new orbits mark the start of special maneuvers that could offer scientists fresh insight into the evolution of the planet’s moons and iconic rings.

Cassini’s cameras captured the latest images of the giant hexagon on Dec. 2 and 3, a few days after the spacecraft first began its new orbit on Nov. 30. Each side of that six-sided figure is about as wide as Earth. At the center, a giant storm swirls on the north pole. It’s a surprising structure, surrounded by Saturn’s smoother rings, and scientists have long wondered how it maintains its shape. (Saturn’s larger cousin, Jupiter, has no such shape at its northern pole.)”

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