CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

The Rose
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The Rose
PIA 14944

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  The spinning vortex of Saturn's north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).

This image is among the first sunlit views of Saturn's north pole captured by Cassini's imaging cameras. When the spacecraft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004, it was northern winter and the north pole was in darkness. Saturn's north pole was last imaged under sunlight by NASA's Voyager 2 in 1981; however, the observation geometry did not allow for detailed views of the poles. Consequently, it is not known how long this newly discovered north-polar hurricane has been active.

The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as red. In this scheme, red indicates low clouds and green indicates high ones.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 94 degrees. Image scale is 1 mile (2 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. 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 was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: April 29, 2013 (PIA 14944)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
sustayne (Jun 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM):
I like to imagine what an ET field trip would be like. Just think of hopping aboard the school's 3,000-seat shuttle with my imaging device tucked away in my "Is there Life on Earth?" lunchbox along with a 2,ooo calorie Spicy Jumbo Jupiter burger ( red spot connotes chipotle flavor) and Saturn rings.
We whiz through a gap in the rings of Saturn as we head up to dive into the clouds of the North Pole there. Faaaaantaastic! Don't want to leave such a beautiful place, yet there is so much to see just around this one planet that we'll be here for days.
libbydaddy (May 25, 2013 at 5:29 AM):
I agree. At the same time it dwarfs me it fills me up. Feeling ephemeral and tiny then complete and powerful. Enigmatic how God's creation, from the smallest to the largest, fulfills in it's fractal majesty.

Creative imaging for Mother's day - nice touch.

It seems that the scale would indicate that we're looking far deeper than 16K into the atmosphere. Just how far down can we see into the atmosphere (anywhere on Saturn)?
NeKto (May 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM):
clouds on this planet exist between sea level and 16 kilometers. Saturn's cloud banks have to be a lot taller that 16 km.
NeKto (May 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM):
even when i have a terrible week, like the one i just had, coming to this site and looking at the breath taking images helps. the technology we have that lets us see these vistas, and the remarkable skill of the team that brings them to us is mind boggling. in the grand scheme of things Saturn is one of our closest neighbors. yet so much was hidden from us until we sent our remote eyes and ears out there. contemplating the detail of this huge vortex makes a really bad day better for me.

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