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Swirls and Shadows

Saturn's surface is painted with swirls and shadows. Each swirl here is a weather system, reminding us of how dynamic Saturn's atmosphere is.

Images taken in the near-infrared (like this one) permit us to peer through Saturn's methane haze layer to the clouds below. Scientists track the clouds and weather systems in the hopes of better understanding Saturn's complex atmosphere - and thus Earth's as well.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 17 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 8, 2015 using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 794,000 miles (1.3 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is  47 miles (76 kilometers) per pixel.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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