This is a highly detailed look at the feathery, wavelike patterns in the cloud bands of Saturn's southern hemisphere. Near the center, long filaments wrap around a swirling vortex. Notable is the extreme change in appearance at very high southern latitudes.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide angle camera on Dec. 14, 2004, at a distance of 595,000 kilometers (370,000 miles) from Saturn, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 890 nanometers. It has been highly processed to enhance details. The image scale is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute