This is a collection of the most detailed images of deep-level clouds obtained by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer onboard the Cassini spacecraft.
Images were obtained at 5.1 micron wavelength, inverted photographically to show clouds as bright. Donut-shaped clouds are seen near the north pole (upper panel).
A planetary wave pattern dominates the cloud structures just south of the equator (upper part of middle panel), with many swirls of clouds connected to discrete cloud "cells." The southern hemisphere is striped with numerous thin lanes of clouds throughout the southern hemisphere (bottom image, and middle part of middle image). Many thin wisps of clouds appear to be connected to discrete cloud "cells."
Images were acquired during three passes by Saturn between February and July, 2005. The top image was acquired on Feb. 17, 2005, from a distance of 683,000 kilometers (424,397 miles). The middle image was acquired on March 8, 2005, from 725,000 kilometers (450,494 miles) altitude. The bottom image was acquired on July 12, 2003, from a distance of 1.1 million kilometers (683,508 miles).
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 was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team homepage is at http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona