Like a giant eye for the giant planet, Saturn’s great vortex at its north pole appears to stare back at Cassini as Cassini stares at it.
Measurements have sized the “eye” at a staggering 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second). For color views of the eye and the surrounding region, see PIA14946 and PIA14944.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 2, 2014 using a combination of spectral filters which preferentially admit wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 748 nanometers.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.2 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 43 degrees. Image scale is 8 miles (13 kilometers) 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-Caltech/Space Science Institute