Clouds and hazes in Saturnís atmosphere

Clouds and hazes in Saturnís atmosphere

. Enhanced colors bring out the details of Saturnís banded clouds in this image, taken in infrared light. The blue color indicates a clear atmosphere down to a main cloud layer. Different shadings of blue indicate variations of the cloud particles, in size or chemical composition. The cloud particles are believed to be ammonia ice crystals. The red and orange colors mark clouds reaching up high into the atmosphere, and the densest parts of the two storms near Saturnís equator appear white. The green and yellow colors indicate a haze above the main cloud layer. Saturnís counter-flowing east-west winds have aligned the clouds and haze within fixed latitude bands that become more pronounced near the planetís polar regions. The dark region around the south pole (bottom) marks the location of a large hole in the main cloud layer. The rings are made up of chunks of water ice, with a white color that has been browned in some cases, somewhat like dirty snow on a winter road. Two of Saturnís satellites were also recorded, Dione (lower left) and Tethys (upper right). They appear in different yellow and green colors, indicating different conditions on their icy surfaces. This false-color image was taken on 4 January 1998 using the Hubble Space Telescope. (Courtesy of NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University