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A multitude of storms rage in the cloud bands of Saturn's high north polar region. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 397,000 kilometres from Saturn. Image scale is 20 kilometres per pixel. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

This is a side-by-side view of large cyclones at the north (left) and south (right) polar regions of Saturn. The resolution is 200 kilometres per pixel. This is the first time the entire north pole has been imaged in detail. Winds reach over 150 metres per second at 88.3 degrees south latitude, just outside the first bright ring nearest the pole. The pole itself is covered by a small cloud some 600 kilometres wide, but the whole cyclone reaches out by 12,000 kilometres from the pole, bordered by a hexagon-shaped population of fast-moving clouds. The south pole also hosts a polar cyclone, complete with a central eye clear of clouds, extending outwards by 15,000 kilometres from the pole. At both poles, the discrete, circular and oblong clouds dotting the image are likely convective upwelling originating deep inside the planet, which help to power the cyclones. These views show clouds penetrating down to 125 kilometres below the haze. Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.


Cassini’s close up view of the monstrous vortex at Saturn's south pole provides valuable insight about the mechanisms that power the planet's atmosphere. Puffy clouds form an interior ring and have even created their own vortices in some cases. The clear air is warm, like the eye of a terrestrial hurricane, but on Saturn it is locked to the pole, whereas a terrestrial hurricane drifts around. Convective structures mark small regions of intense upwelling air, but the clear air of the vortex eye indicates that this is generally an area of downwelling. Convection is an important part of Saturn's energy budget because the warm upwelling air carries heat from the interior. In a terrestrial hurricane, the convection occurs in the eyewall whereas on Saturn it seems to occur in the eye as well. Image scale is 2 kilometres per pixel. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Bright, high-altitude clouds interact with dark, deeper structures near Saturn's south pole. The dark vortices near lower right are two especially large examples of such deep structures. These vortices create eddies in the higher clouds at adjacent latitudes as they pass by. Image scale is 24 kilometres per pixel. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

A line of dark vortices charge through Saturn's 'Storm Alley', a region that has seen intensive storm activity since the Cassini spacecraft began its observations of the planet in early 2004. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 863,000 kilometers. Image scale is 48 kilometres per pixel. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.


The Cassini spacecraft observes the swirling features in Saturn's northern cloud bands. Image scale is 65 kilometres per pixel. Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.



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