A great vortex rolls through high southern latitudes on Saturn, whirling twisted contours into the clouds. The ringed planet's uppermost clouds are thought to be composed largely of ammonia ice overlying deeper layers of ammonium hydrosulfide and water clouds.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 13, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.8 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 143 degrees. The image was obtained using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. Image scale is 17 kilometers (10 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.