Cassini Spacecraft Views Saturn’s ‘Watercolor’ Swirl

Saturn's 'Watercolor' Swirls

Saturn’s northern polar region showcases the well-known hexagonal shape that encircles the northern polar vortex, seen as a dark spot in the image. This vortex is believed to be the eye of a storm similar to a hurricane. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

In this newly released image from the Cassini Spacecraft you can see Saturn’s north polar region, which somewhat resemble the brushwork in a watercolor painting.

Each latitudinal band represents air flowing at different speeds, and clouds at different heights, compared to neighboring bands. Where they meet and flow past each other, the bands’ interactions produce many eddies and swirls.

The northern polar region of Saturn is dominated by the famous hexagon shape which itself circumscribes the northern polar vortex – seen as a dark spot at the planet’s pole in the above image – which is understood to the be eye of a hurricane-like storm.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 20 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on September 5, 2016, using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 728 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 890,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) from Saturn. The image scale is 53 miles (86 kilometers) per pixel.

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