Occasional views like this one, showing vertical relief in Saturn's cloud tops, help the streamers and swirls of gas seem more like a three dimensional structure than a smooth surface. As on Saturn's solid moons, vertical relief is easiest to view near the terminator, and makes visible the shading of deeper cloud tops by high altitude bands.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 23, 2006, at a distance of approximately 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles) from Saturn. Resolution in the original image was 16 kilometers (10 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of two and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.
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