This turbulent boundary between two latitudinal bands in Saturn's atmosphere curls repeatedly along its edge in this Cassini image. This pattern is an example of a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, which occurs when two fluids of different density flow past each other at different speeds. This type of phenomenon should be fairly common on the gas-giant planets given their alternating jets and the different temperatures in their belts and zones.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on Oct. 9, 2004, at a distance of 5.9 million kilometers (3.7 million miles) from Saturn through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 889 nanometers. The image scale is 69 kilometers (43 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 Cassini-Huygens 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 team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute