Looking a lot like the recent Hurricane Sandy here on Earth, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this image of a large vortex. The Spacecraft has been traveling the Saturnian system in a set of inclined, or tilted, orbits. This perspective has yielded images of roiling storm clouds and a swirling vortex at the center of Saturn’s famed north polar hexagon.
These phenomena mimic what Cassini found at Saturn’s south pole a number of years ago. Cassini has also seen storms circling Saturn’s north pole in the past, but only in infrared wavelengths because the north pole was in darkness. This unprocessed image was taken on Nov. 27, 2012, from a distance of about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) from Saturn.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.