Saturn from Cassini spacecraft

Bands of clouds and long stretching storms, in this spectacular infrared image of Saturn from Cassini spacecraft.

Also quite striking in infrared is the unusual hexagonal cloud pattern surrounding Saturn’s North Pole. Each side of the dark hexagon spans roughly the width of our Earth. The hexagon’s existence was not predicted, and its origin and likely stability remains a topic of research.

Saturn’s famous rings circle the planet and cast shadows below the equator.

The featured image was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2014 in several infrared colors. In 2017 September, the Cassini mission was brought to a dramatic conclusion when the spacecraft was directed to dive into ringed giant.

Image credit NASA, JPL-Caltech, SSI; Processing: Maksim Kakitsev