Saturnian Clouds

Photojournal: PIA02230

December 16, 2004

This enhanced-color image of the northern hemisphere of Saturn taken by Voyager 1 on November 5, 1980 at a range of 9 million kilometers (5.5 million miles) shows a variety of features in Saturn's clouds. Small-scale convective cloud features
are visible in the brown belt; an isolated convective cloud with a dark ring is seen in the light brown zone; and a longitudinal wave is visible in the light blue region.

The smallest features visible in this photograph are 175 kilometers (109 miles) across. Time-lapse images of cloud features like those shown
in this image not only provide information on how these storms evolve with time, but provide a way to measure atmospheric wind speeds. On Saturn and the other gas giants, winds blow mainly along lines of constant latitude. Near Saturn's equator, winds blow eastward (the same direction as Saturn rotates) at speeds of about 1100 meters/sec (500 miles/hour).

For a high resolution image, click here.