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Saturn’s Polar Vortex

Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


 

The center of this vortex was imaged in unprecedented detail by the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. These clouds lie at the center of the unusual hexagonal cloud system that surrounds the north pole of Saturn. The sun rose on Saturn’s north pole just a few years ago, with Cassini taking only infrared images of the shadowed region previously.

The above image is raw and unprocessed and is being prepared for release in 2013. Several similar images of the region have recently been condensed into a movie. Planetary scientists will continue to study this most unusual cloud formation.

This image was taken on Nov. 27, 2012, with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera. The camera was pointing toward Saturn from approximately 224,618 miles (361,488 kilometers) away.