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Saturn's strange color changes baffle NASA

The earlier, blue photo shows Saturn's north pole about four years ago, and the bottom photo shows it this year, glowing golden. (Source: NASA.gov) The earlier, blue photo shows Saturn's north pole about four years ago, and the bottom photo shows it this year, glowing golden. (Source: NASA.gov)

(RNN) - The bizarre hexagon at Saturn's north pole has puzzled NASA scientists since it was first discovered in 1988, and it just got more mysterious. The first images from the Cassini spacecraft showed a dark blue, six-sided shape in the midst of lighter blue polar clouds.

Cassini recently beamed back another image, showing the same area glowing with a golden hue.

Researchers have concluded the hexagon, which is about 22,000 miles wide, is a six-sided jet stream that rotates at approximately the same speed as the giant planet. Think of it as a hurricane with twice the diameter of Earth.

Scientists believe the color changes along with the seasons of Saturn, which takes 29 years to make one orbit of the sun, but they are studying other possibilities.

It's probably not a wormhole connecting Saturn to the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, as some out-there speculators have presumed.

But if it was, would they tell us?

Actually, the shift from blue to gold is possibly caused by increased production of photochemical hazes as Saturn moves toward its May 2017 summer solstice.

One thing remains certain: Saturn is the most strikingly beautiful planet in our solar system. Here's a gif created by false-color modification and sequencing a group of images taken over a period of time.

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