There is much to examine in detailed close-ups like this one of Saturn's atmosphere. Scientists are particularly interested in the bright, and in some places turbulent-looking, thin boundary between the large-scale features in the upper half of the image. The characteristic features of this thin boundary might be suggestive of a place where convection is occurring. Convection in Saturn's atmosphere occurs when sufficiently warm air at deeper levels rises to levels where it becomes less dense than the surrounding air.
Coverage on Saturn extends here from 18 degrees south to 50 degrees south latitude. Contrast in the image was enhanced to aid the visibility of atmospheric features.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 19, 2005, at a distance of approximately 487,000 kilometers (302,000 miles) from Saturn using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The image scale is 25 kilometers (16 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 operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute