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Swirling Storms on Saturn

Wed, 01/09/2013 - 3:44am

Swirling Storms on Saturn

Swirling Storms on Saturn

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Peering into the Storm: This image from NASA's Cassini mission was taken on November 27, 2012, with Cassini's narrow-angle camera. The camera was pointing toward Saturn from approximately 224,618 miles (361,488 kilometers) away. This image has not been validated or calibrated. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been traveling the Saturnian system in a set of inclined, or tilted, orbits that give mission scientists a vertigo-inducing view of Saturn's polar regions. This perspective has yielded images of roiling storm clouds and a swirling vortex at the center of Saturn's famed north polar hexagon.

These phenomena mimic what Cassini found at Saturn's south pole a number of years ago. Cassini has also seen storms circling Saturn's north pole in the past, but only in infrared wavelengths because the north pole was in darkness. (See http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2008-192.) But, with the change of the Saturnian seasons, the sun has begun to creep over the planet's north pole.

This particular set of raw, unprocessed images was taken on Novovember 27, 2012, from a distance of about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) from Saturn. More raw images are available at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/index.cfm 

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, 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 and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO.

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