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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Saturn's South Pole


A dark spot marks Saturn's south pole in this new image from the Cassini spacecraft. It was taken July 13 and released yesterday.

Around the polar region, concentric rings of clouds can be seen. To the north, wavy patterns are evident, resulting from the atmosphere moving with different speeds at different latitudes. Other observations have revealed that Saturn's winds change dramatically over time, having slowed down by 40 percent over two decades.

Cassini was 3.1 million miles (5 million kilometers) from Saturn when it snapped this infrared view. Contrast has been enhanced slightly to aid visibility.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. It is run out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

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