The Cassini spacecraft observes the swirling features in Saturn's northern cloud bands. Ring-cast shadows darken the planet's northern hemisphere at increasingly lower latitudes.
In late 2004, not long after Cassini arrived in orbit (see Saturn's Blue Cranium), the shadows extended much farther north. Their southerly slide continues as the seasons change on Saturn.
This view is centered on 25 degrees north latitude and was acquired from about 39 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 18, 2008 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (716,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 65 kilometers (41 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