Cassini captured intriguing cloud structures on Saturn as it neared its rendezvous with the gas giant. Notable is the irregularity in the eastern edge of the dark southern polar collar. The image was taken with the narrow angle camera on May 21, 2004, from a distance of 22 million kilometers (13.7 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to absorption and scattering of sunlight in the near infrared by methane gas (centered at 727 nanometers). The image scale is 131 kilometers (81 miles) per pixel. No contrast enhancement has been performed on this image.
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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.