Cassini peeks at Saturn's relatively dark south pole, providing an up-close look at the haze-free upper atmosphere there.
The banded structure around the pole seems to be superimposed upon the characteristic high-latitude mottled turbulent structure (the white puffs of cloud near the pole), suggesting that the banding is a shallow, not deep, feature.
The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on April 23, 2005, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of polarized infrared light from a distance of approximately 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 14 kilometers (9 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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.