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Saturn's atmosphere comes alive with a multitude of dark vortices swirling through the southern hemisphere.
Vortices are long-lived features that are part of the general circulation of Saturn's atmosphere. Vortices are counterparts to the eastward- and westward-flowing jets - the alternating bands flowing past each other in the atmosphere. The vortices can last for months or years and probably grow by merging with other vortices until a few dominate a particular zone of wind shear between two jets.
The vortex at upper right is one of the largest vortices on Saturn.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 16, 2006 at a distance of approximately 3.2 million kilometers (2 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 19 kilometers (12 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.