This ultraviolet view shows wavy cloud bands near Saturn's south polar region. The image was taken using a spectral filter centered at 298 nanometers, and reveals different details in the gas giant's atmosphere than those seen in longer wavelengths. While far from featureless, the strong contrast between light and dark cloud bands is notably absent, as are bight and dark spots.
The eye is drawn to a bright wedge near the lower-left limb of the planet. That wedge falls in a latitude band which borders a darker latitude band a little closer to the pole. Viewing the limb of the planet in ultraviolet light allows scientists to study the high part of the atmosphere (the stratosphere). Imaging scientists can discern from this image that the stratosphere in this latitude band is relatively pure hydrogen and helium and contains very little of the stratospheric haze which causes darkening closer to the pole.
This view was taken with the narrow angle camera on July 21, 2004, from a distance of 6.4 million kilometers (4 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 38 kilometers (23 miles) per pixel. The image was slightly contrast enhanced to bring out features in the atmosphere.
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.