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Spots on Saturn
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Spots on Saturn

November 11, 2009
As Cassini closes in on Saturn, its view is growing sharper with time and now reveals new atmospheric features in the planet's southern hemisphere.

The spacecraft's narrow angle camera took several exposures on 8 March 2004 which have been combined to create this natural color image. The image contrast and colors have been slightly enhanced to aid visibility. The spacecraft was then 56.4 million kilometres from Saturn, or slightly more than one-third of the distance from Earth to the Sun. The image scale is approximately 338 kilometres per pixel. The planet is 23 percent larger in this image than it appeared in the preceding color image, taken four weeks earlier.

Atmospheric features such as two small, faint dark spots, visible in the planet's southern hemisphere, will become clearer in the coming months. The spots are located at 38 degrees South latitude.

Moons visible in the lower half of this image: Mimas (398 kilometres across) at left, just below the rings; Dione (1118 kilometres across) at left, below Mimas; and Enceladus (499 kilometres across) at right. The moons have had their brightness enhanced to aid visibility.


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