Spectacular close-up view of Saturn’s north-pole hurricane, as seen by the international Cassini spacecraft, revealing the intricate detail of cloud formations in this dynamic feature.
The images were captured by Cassini from a distance of about 419 000 km from Saturn on 27 November 2012, and are the first close-up views of this storm. Image scale is 2 kilometres per pixel.
The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometres are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometres are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometres are projected as red. In this scheme, red indicates low clouds and green indicates high ones.
The eye of the hurricane spans about 2000 km and the clouds at the outer edge are travelling at 540 km/h.
The hurricane shares striking similarities to those seen on Earth: both have an eye with no clouds or very low clouds at the centre, high clouds forming an eyewall, with other high clouds spiralling around the eye, and an anticlockwise spin in the northern hemisphere.