Dark, cyclonic ovals cruise along flowing lanes of atmosphere in this movie of Saturn's southern hemisphere. The movie is comprised of 45 frames captured between February 6 to March 30, 2004 as Cassini coasted toward Saturn. The images were projected onto a rectangular longitude system to make a cylindrical map, with one map for each rotation of the planet that was captured by the cameras. These cylindrical maps (shown here also in movie form) were then projected back onto an oblate `Saturn'.
This view of Saturn has some similarities to movies made from Cassini's encounter with Jupiter, except that in this case only the dark ovals are visible, not the background jets. The jets are there, but their features are much more muted. It is not yet clear whether all of the ovals visible here are cyclonic - meaning that their winds flow in a counter-clockwise direction - but they are similar in appearance to the cyclonic ovals Cassini spied on Jupiter. A few of the ovals can be seen to change their apparent direction of travel, from westward to eastward, as they change their latitude. This fascinating behavior was also noted by Cassini imaging scientists for ovals on Jupiter. And two mergers of ovals are captured in this sequence, one of them reported previously (PIA 05386).
The images in this movie were taken with the narrow angle camera using a spectral filter centered at 750 nanometers, and from distances ranging from 70.8 million kilometers (44 million miles) to 46.3 million kilometers (28.8 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale ranges from 425 kilometers (264 miles) to 278 kilometers (173 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 Office of Space Science, 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.