Washington: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured a stunning image of Saturn, showing the whole northern region of the ringed planet bathed in sunlight.
The image from late 2016 obtained at a distance of about 1.2 million kilometres from Saturn shows a hexagon-shaped jet-stream which is fully illuminated.
The planet appears darker in regions where the cloud deck is lower, such the region interior to the hexagon, NASA said.
Mission experts on Saturn’s atmosphere are taking advantage of the season and Cassini’s favourable viewing geometry to study this and other weather patterns as Saturn’s northern hemisphere approaches Summer solstice.
The view looks towards the sunlit side of the rings from about 51 degrees above the ring plane, according to NASA.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft’s wide-angle camera on September 9, last year using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centred at 728 nanometres.