Saturn Looms Eerily in Infrared

By Kiona Smith-Strickland on at

Filters aren’t just for Instagram anymore: the Cassini orbiter snapped this wide-angle shot of Saturn using an infrared filter to help scientists get a better look at clouds in the gas giant’s atmosphere.

The filter used in the shot is sensitive to the wavelengths of light reflected by methane. There’s not a lot of methane in Saturn’s atmosphere, but there’s enough to effect how much light the clouds reflect. The darker areas of the image are clouds lower in Saturn’s atmosphere, and the lighter areas are clouds at higher altitudes. That data will help scientists map vertical motion in Saturn’s atmosphere.

Saturn Looms Eerily in Infrared

Cassini took this image from 930,000 miles away, and the scale of the full-sized image is about 55 miles to a pixel. [NASA]