Strange Cloud Features on Saturn

Article written: 13 Jun , 2006
Updated: 24 Mar , 2012
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This close up view of Saturn shows an unusual feature in its atmosphere. It appears as if part of one belt is crossing over into another. Another possibility is that it’s just an illusion created by different layers of clouds. Cassini took this photograph on May 12, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Saturn.

Saturn’s atmosphere produces beautiful and sometimes perplexing features. Is the bright feature below center a rare crossing of a feature from a zone to a belt, or is it an illusion created by different cloud layers at different levels? The answer is not always easy to determine.

The image was taken using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. The image was acquired with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 12, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 145 degrees. Image scale is 17 kilometers (10 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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

Original Source: NASA/JPL/SSI News Release


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