Cassini peeks at Saturn's relatively dark south pole, providing an up-close look at the haze-free upper atmosphere there.
The banded structure around the pole seems to be superimposed on the characteristic high-latitude, mottled, turbulent structure (the white puffs of cloud near the pole), suggesting that the banding is a shallow, not deep, feature.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 23, 2005, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of polarized infrared light at a distance of approximately 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 14 kilometers (9 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