The clouds of Saturn swirl, billow and merge. These bands are layered into stratified cloud decks consisting of droplets of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water set aloft in a sea of hydrogen and helium.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 728 nanometers. Cassini's specialized camera filters allow unparalleled views of Saturn's raging, banded atmosphere.
Cassini obtained the image on Dec. 1, 2006 at a distance of approximately 856,000 kilometers (532,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 48 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 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.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute