When imaged at infrared wavelengths that pierce the planet’s upper haze layer, the high-speed winds of Saturn’s atmosphere produce watercolor-like patterns.
With no solid surface creating atmospheric drag, winds on Saturn can reach speeds of more than 1,100 miles per hour (1,800 kilometers per hour) — some of the fastest in the solar system.
This view was taken from a vantage point about 28 degrees above Saturn’s equator. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016, with a combination of spectral filters which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 728 nanometers.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 592,000 miles (953,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 35 miles (57 kilometers) per pixel.
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 https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute