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This infrared view of Saturn’s southern hemisphere shows the bright, high altitude equatorial band at the top, and the now familiar dark bull’s-eye that marks the planet’s south pole. At the mid-latitudes in between, several storms swirl across the planet.
This image was taken using a compression scheme that allows more images to be taken by Cassini. They are stored on its flight data recorder, which has limited space - at the expense of some data quality. Due to the compression, the image retains a blocky, or “pixilated,” quality after enhancement. Despite these artifacts, such compression can be useful for increasing the number of images that can be taken and relayed back to Earth.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 31, 2005, using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728 nanometers at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (800,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 35 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 77 kilometers (48 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.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute