August 18, 2008
In the low light near Saturn's north pole, the Cassini spacecraft captures a partial view of the planet's unique hexagonal feature. One side and two corners of the hexagon are seen at center.
Saturn's north polar hexagon was fully imaged in thermal infrared by Cassini in Oct. 2006 (see Saturn's Active North Pole).
The imaging cameras will see progressively more of the feature as solar illumination creeps northward with the onset of spring in the northern hemisphere.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 13, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 748,000 kilometers (465,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 41 kilometers (26 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