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Cassini continues its vigil as Saturn’s atmosphere churns and morphs through time. Four large, dark spots, or storms, form a symmetrical pattern in the mid-southern latitudes as these features squeeze past each other. Further observations will show whether these storms merge or spawn new spots of their own. North of the features, some latitudinal bands exhibit a bumpy or scalloped pattern, probably indicative of planet-scale wave motions in the atmosphere.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft’s narrow angle camera on May 15, 2004, from a distance of 24.7 million kilometers (15.3 million miles) from Saturn through a filter centered at 750 nanometers. The image scale is 147 kilometers (91 miles) per pixel. Contrast in the image 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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras, were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute