Saturn's atmosphere displays elegant structural detail in this image of the southern polar region. Swirls, fingers of clouds and three subtle brighter spots are visible here as they race around the planet. A dark spot surrounded by concentric rings marks the south pole.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on July 13, 2004, from a distance of 5.1 million kilometers (3.2 million miles) from Saturn, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 889 nanometers. The image scale is 30 kilometers (19 miles) per pixel. Contrast has been enhanced slightly to aid visibility.
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.