Monday, November 17, 2014

NASA Cassini image of the swirling clouds on Saturn

Nature is an artist, and this time she seems to have let her paints swirl together a bit.

What the viewer might perceive to be Saturn's surface is really just the tops of its uppermost cloud layers.

Everything we see is the result of fluid dynamics.

Astronomers study Saturn's cloud dynamics in part to test and improve our understanding of fluid flows.

Hopefully, what we learn will be useful for understanding our own atmosphere and that of other planetary bodies.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 25 degrees above the ringplane.

The image was taken in red light with the NAC (Narrow Angle Camera) Cassini spacecraft on Aug. 23, 2014.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 127 degrees. Image scale is 7 miles (11 kilometers) per pixel.

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