A Blue Northern Mystery
January 16, 2009
Saturn's north pole retains its bluish hue in this true color Cassini image, even as northern winter is coming to an end.
The azure blue of Saturn's winter hemisphere during the early Cassini prime mission still remains a puzzle. Over the course of time, the blue color has faded and has been replaced with bands of other hues (see Saturn ... Four Years On).
The north pole is in shadow here, but a portion of its oscillating hexagonal pattern is visible. Storms create the look of a pockmarked surface.
Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were acquired with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Nov. 29, 2008 at a distance of approximately 1.098 million kilometers (683,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 38 degrees. Image scale is 62 kilometers (39 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 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute