CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Writhing Windforms

Contorted clouds wriggle across high northern latitudes in this exquisitely detailed close-up of Saturn's atmosphere. Two immense storms swirl at right, each easily 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) across.

The wispy, swirling nature of the bright clouds is reminiscent of cloud material being dumped into the cloud-level atmosphere by convective updrafts that come up from below, with the local shear and turbulence then creating the patterns seen, like a dye marker injected into a flowing stream.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 5, 2007 at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (900,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 8 kilometers (5 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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: May 8, 2007 (PIA 08935)
Image/Caption Information
  Writhing Windforms
PIA 08935

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Alliance Member Comments
DEChengst (May 8, 2007 at 12:45 PM):
Very impressive! I want a cloud movie version of this :)