'Chinese Lantern' Technique Helps Track Clouds at Saturn
A new image of Saturn demonstrates a technique that creates a 'Chinese lantern'
effect, showing Saturn's deep clouds silhouetted against the planet's warm,
glowing interior. Seen this way, Saturn's interior shows surprising activity
underneath the overlying haze, with a great variety of cloud shapes and sizes.
Image right: False-color view of Saturn. Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona+ Full image and caption
+ Slide show: Rainbow Saturn
Because upper-level hazes and clouds obscure the view of these deep clouds in
visible light, imaging clouds in the depths of Saturn is not practical using
visible-light cameras. Several recent images obtained by Cassini's visual
and infrared mapping spectrometer were combined in a way that highlights the
deep clouds in silhouette against the background radiation of heat generated
by Saturn's interior. This literally lights the planet from the inside, like a lantern.
Clouds and hazes in Saturn's northern hemisphere are noticeably thinner than
those in its southern hemisphere. This is thought to be a seasonal effect;
this idea will be tested as Saturn's northern hemisphere enters springtime
in the next few years.
Bright red colors indicate areas relatively free of deep-level clouds and
particles, while darker red colors are cloudy regions. Images like these
show Saturn's deep clouds under both daytime and nighttime conditions.
The image, produced by team members at the University of Arizona, Tucson, is
available at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov
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 Cassini-Huygens
mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter
was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The visual and infrared mapping
spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona.
Media contact: Carolina Martinez
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.