Tag Archives: Hexagon

Scientists have found that Saturn’s hexagon-shaped jet stream is deeply rooted and that its rotation might be revealing the planet’s rotation as well.

Scientists have found that Saturn’s hexagon-shaped jet stream is deeply rooted and that its rotation might be revealing the planet’s rotation as well.

Due to the tilt of approximately 27º of the planet Saturn, its polar atmosphere undergoes intense seasonable variations with long polar nights lasting over seven years, followed by a long period of 23 years of variable illumination. However, the seasonal variations do not affect the hexagon and its jet stream at all, so both are part of an extensive wave, deeply rooted in Saturn’s atmosphere. The UPV/EHU researchers suggest that the hexagon and its stream are the manifestation of a “Rossby wave” similar to those that form in the mid-latitudes of the earth. On our planet the jet stream meanders from west to east and brings, associated with it, the system of areas of low pressure and anticyclones which we have been seeing regularly on weather maps.

On Saturn, a hydrogen gas planet, ten times the size of the Earth, cold in its upper clouds, without a solid surface, and with an atmosphere as deep as that of an ocean, “the hexagonal wavy motion of the jet stream is expected to be propagated vertically and reveal to us aspects of the planet’s hidden atmosphere,” pointed out Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, Head of the Planetary Sciences research group. “The movement of the hexagon could therefore be linked to the depths of Saturn, and the rotation period of this structure, which, as we have been able to ascertain, is 10 hours, 39 minutes and 23 seconds, could be that of the planet itself,” he added. Saturn is the only planet in the Solar System whose rotation period is not yet known.

The CIA has now declassified the story behind their effort in 1971 and 1972 to recover a satellite film canister from 16,400 feet below sea level in the Pacific.

The CIA has now declassified the story behind their effort in 1971 and 1972 to recover a satellite film canister from 16,400 feet below sea level in the Pacific.

The story of the men and women who built Hexagon

The story of the men and women who built of the spy satellites dubbed Hexagon, and never told a soul.

It was dubbed “Big Bird” and it was considered the most successful space spy satellite program of the Cold War era. From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks. The scale, ambition and sheer ingenuity of Hexagon KH-9 was breathtaking. The fact that 19 out of 20 launches were successful (the final mission blew up because the booster rockets failed) is astonishing.

So too is the human tale of the 45-year-old secret that many took to their graves.

The designer of spy satellite finally reveals his life’s work

The designer of the spy satellite KH-9 HEXAGON (more generally known by its nickname “Big Bird”) has finally been able to describe his life’s work.

What surprised me most from this story is the fact that HEXAGON used film to record its images, not some form of digital or electronic technology. The film was returned to Earth in four “re-entry buckets” that were snatched out of the air by a modified C-130 airplane. I had assumed that by the time HEXAGON was launched they had abandoned film. Not so.