CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
High Clouds Aloft

High Clouds Aloft
PIA 10580

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  A Cassini image captures a bright, oblong storm swirling high through the middle latitudes of the southern hemisphere.

The image was taken through a spectral filter centered on wavelengths of light that are strongly absorbed by methane gas. Hence, any light making it through this filter to the camera's detector has bounced off clouds that are high in the atmosphere, making them visible, while light passing through the cloud-free surroundings gets absorbed by the methane gas there before it reaches the lower clouds.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 5, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 890 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 711,000 kilometers (442,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 106 degrees. Image scale is 39 kilometers (24 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: February 17, 2009 (PIA 10580)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
stowaway (Feb 17, 2009 at 2:22 PM):
Whoa! Very cool picture ;-)