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This stunning Cassini image shows that Saturn’s atmosphere is an active and dynamic place, full of storms and powerful winds. This view is of the planet’s southern hemisphere and shows dark storms ringed by bright clouds. The line along the limb of the planet is an artifact of the contrast-enhancement used to bring out features in the atmosphere.
The white churning clouds are at a latitude where winds blow to the west – one of the few such places on Saturn. This latitude has been active since the beginning of 2004 and has been informally named “Storm Alley” by Cassini imaging scientists.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Sept. 19, 2004, at a distance of 8.3 million kilometers (5.2 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 750 nanometers. The image scale is 49 kilometers (30 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 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