The long, gently meandering character of the clouds in this view is a tracer of the generally stable flow of Saturn's atmosphere. The flow is disrupted at turbulent belt-zone boundaries and, here and there, by eddies and vortices.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 11, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 147 degrees. The image was obtained using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. Image scale is 17 kilometers (11 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 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.