The Face of Beauty
Few sights in the solar system are more strikingly beautiful than softly hued Saturn embraced by the shadows of its stately rings.
The gas planet's subtle northward gradation from gold to azure is a striking visual effect that scientists don't fully understand. The color view above was created using blue, green and red spectral filters, which approximates the scene as it would appear to the human eye.
Current thinking says that the color gradations may be related to seasonal influences, tied to the cold temperatures in the northern (winter) hemisphere. Despite Cassini's revelations, Saturn remains a world of mystery.
Currently, the rings' shadows shield the mid-northern latitudes from the harshest of the sun's rays. As Saturn travels around the sun in its 29-year orbit, the shadows will narrow and head southward, eventually blanketing the opposite hemisphere.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL