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Cassini shares infrared imagery of Saturn clouds

A combination of infrared images accounts for cloud portrait's dream-like swirl of colors.

By Brooks Hays
Cassini shares infrared imagery of Saturn clouds
A mix of three spectral filters, sensitive to infrared light at 750, 727 and 619 nanometers, gives Cassini's cloud portrait its unique -- and unnatural -- color scheme. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Kevin M. Gill

BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Cassini's latest offering could be an abstract painting, a close-up of a marble or tie-dyed T-shirt. But according to NASA, which shared the image online Wednesday, the shot reveals Saturn's clouds.

The photograph actually encompasses several images captured by the probe's wide-angle camera, each using a different spectral filter sensitive to different frequencies of infrared light.

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By differentiating between types and frequencies of light waves, Cassini's camera can probe Saturn's cloud cover for information about its structure, composition, depth, density and more.

This particular framing reveals the clouds hovering above Saturn's northern hemisphere. The amalgamation of images was assembled by Kevin M. Gill, a longtime space imagery specialist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Though most of Cassini's operations are managed by scientists and engineers at JPL in Pasadena, much of the program's image processing happens at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

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