After a year and a half in orbit, the Cassini spacecraft has begun to image Saturn's northern hemisphere in detail. The northern latitudes currently are experiencing winter, and atmospheric scientists are interested in determining whether the winter hemisphere is systematically different in appearance than the sunnier southern hemisphere.
This scene contains a great deal of bright, whorl-shaped cloud activity.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 6, 2006, at a distance of approximately 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 17 kilometers (11 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