These two Cassini images were taken 23 minutes apart and show many vortices and turbulent wakes in Saturn's atmosphere, and the overall filamentary structure of the flow. Many of the narrow cloud streaks that extend and curl over great distances maintain their integrity, rather than mixing with neighboring air parcels. This type of behavior is a characteristic of what scientists call "two-dimensional turbulence".
In "2-D" turbulence, the patterns in flowing fluids, like the gases in Saturn's atmosphere (or Earth's), can behave rather like the patterns seen in a thin, soapy or oily film floating on water. These vortex-filled systems have little relative thickness, and involve very different physics, compared to three-dimensional turbulent systems.
Contrast in the images was enhanced to aid the visibility of atmospheric features.
The images were taken in visible light with the wide angle camera on August 20, 2005, from a mean distance of approximately 484,000 kilometers (301,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is about 26 kilometers (16 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.