December 4, 2013
This infrared movie from NASA's Cassini mission shows the churning of the curious six-sided jet stream at Saturn's north pole known as "the hexagon." The movie, which was sped up here, covers 2 hours and 45 minutes in real time. It was made from data obtained by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the 5-micron wavelength of radiation. This channel shows clouds in silhouette against infrared light emanating from Saturn's interior. These clouds are composed of relatively large particles and are thick, blocking light so they appear dark. These kinds of clouds tend to lie deep in Saturn's atmosphere, at about 3 bars of pressure.
The images were obtained on June 14, 2013. There are 19 images in this movie, each taken with a 120-millisecond exposure time.
A related colorized version that is centered on the north pole can be seen at Looking Down on the Hexagon in Infrared.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA. The VIMS team is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
For more information about the Cassini mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona