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The Cassini spacecraft captures three magnificent sights at once: Saturn's
north polar vortex and hexagon along with its expansive rings.
The hexagon, which is wider than two Earths, owes its appearance to the jet
stream that forms its perimeter. The jet stream forms a six-lobed, stationary
wave which wraps around the north polar regions at a latitude of roughly 77
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 37 degrees
above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle
camera on April 2, 2014 using a spectral filter which preferentially admits
wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.2
million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle
of 43 degrees. Image scale is 81 miles (131 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European
Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. 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 and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at
JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission
and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .
imaging team homepage is
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science