PIA20503: Fluid Fantasy


Fluid Fantasy

Caption:

Saturn's clouds are full of raw beauty, but they also represent a playground for a branch of physics called fluid dynamics, which seeks to understand the motion of gases and liquids.

Saturn's lack of a solid planetary surface (as on Earth, Mars or Venus) means that its atmosphere is free to flow around the planet essentially without obstruction. This is one factor that generates Saturn's pattern of alternating belts and zones -- one of the main features of its dynamic atmosphere. Winds in the belts blow at speeds different from those in the adjacent zones, leading to the formation of vortices along the boundaries between the two. And vigorous convection occasionally leads to storms and waves.

Saturn's innermost rings are just visible at the bottom and in the upper left corner.

This view is centered on clouds at 25 degrees north latitude on Saturn. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 20, 2016 using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 728 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 752,000 miles (1.21 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 6 degrees. Image scale is 45 miles (72 kilometers) per pixel.

Background Info:

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (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. 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, Colorado.

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

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Saturn Rings Earth, Mars, Saturn, Sun, Venus
System Saturn Earth, Mars
Target Type Ring Earth, Planet, Sun
Mission Cassini-Huygens
Instrument Host Cassini Orbiter
Host Type Orbiter
Instrument Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS)
Detector Wide Angle Camera
Extra Keywords Atmosphere, Grayscale, Infrared, Storm, Wave
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2016-10-24
Date in Caption 2016-07-20
Image Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA20503
Identifier PIA20503