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Cassini’s prying infrared vision allows details of Saturn’s storm-ridden hydrogen atmosphere to be revealed as never before.
North of the dark south polar region is what may be a “polygonal wave” structure developing in the atmosphere. Such a wave was seen in the northern polar region in images from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft and had a hexagon shape that surrounded the pole.
This view has been magnified and enhanced to improve contrast in the visible features. The image was taken using a compression scheme that decreases image file size for storage onboard the spacecraft, and thus the image appears slightly blocky, or “pixelated” following enhancement.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 31, 2005, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (900,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 36 degrees. Resolution in the original image was 78 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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute