CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Nearly True Color Storm Close-Up

The biggest, most long-lasting Saturnian storm seen by either NASA's Cassini or Voyager spacecraft roils the atmosphere of the gas giant in this nearly-true-color mosaic of Cassini images.

See PIA14903 and PIA14905 to learn more about the size and development of this storm. This mosaic shows the storm's effects encircling the planet and was created using 126 images taken in succession as different parts of Saturn's northern hemisphere rotated into Cassini's view.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters are usually combined to create a natural color view. Because visible red light images were not available, images taken using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers were used in place of red. So the color is close to natural color, but is not exact.

A second version of this mosaic is also included here. This view uses these same nearly true color filters, but the images were contrast enhanced. The result is a view that increases the visibility of features.

The head of the storm is near the center of the mosaic, and a train of vortices appears as blue spots just to the south of the head. These blue spots are parts of the storm's tail that have already encircled the planet and are approaching from the west (left in the image). The blue color indicates they have some high, semi-transparent haze but no thick clouds underneath because there are no white or yellow colored clouds shown here.

This mosaic covers an area ranging from about 18 degrees north latitude to 47 degrees north latitude. The views stretch the whole longitude range, passing through 360/0 degrees west longitude near the far right of the mosaics.

The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 6, 2011 over about 11 hours (about a Saturnian day) at a distance of approximately 2 million miles (3.3 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 83 degrees. These mosaics are simple cylindrical map projections, defined such that a square pixel subtends equal intervals of latitude and longitude. At higher latitudes, the pixel size in the north-south direction remains the same, but the pixel size (in terms of physical extent on the planet) in the east-west direction becomes smaller. The pixel size is set at the equator, where the distances along the sides are equal. This map has a pixel size of 28 miles (45 kilometers) at the equator.

The Cassini Solstice 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 Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: November 17, 2011 (PIA 14904)
Image/Caption Information
  Nearly True Color Storm Close-Up
PIA 14904

Avg Rating: 8.17/10

Nearly-True-Color Full Size 8382x610:
PNG 7.2 MB

Nearly-True-Color Half Size 4191x305:
PNG 1.9 MB

Nearly-True-Color Quarter Size 2095x152:
PNG 483 KB


Nearly True Color Storm Close-Up
PIA 14904

Avg Rating: 9.86/10

Contrast Enhanced True Color Full Size 8382x610:
PNG 7.9 MB

Contrast Enhanced True Color Half Size 4191x305:
PNG 6.7 MB

Contrast Enhanced True Color Quarter Size 2096x153:
PNG 1.7 MB

Alliance Member Comments
jsc248 (Nov 17, 2011 at 3:53 PM):
What an amazingly detailed storm image this is. The detail within the cloud system is simply breathtaking!