Saturn Aurora Captured by Cassini Spacecraft

Saturn Aurora Captured by Cassini Spacecraft
2 8 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 20cm


In this image constructed from data collected in the near-infrared wavelengths of light, the auroral emission is shown in green. Scientists designated blue to indicate sunlight reflected at wavelengths from 2 to 3 microns, green to indicate light from hydrogen ions at wavelengths between 3 and 4 microns and red to indicate thermal emission at 5 microns. Saturn's rings and high altitude haze only reflect sunlight at 3 microns or less, so they appear deep blue. The glow from the aurora can only be seen at the wavelengths in the green channel. The heat emission from the interior of Saturn is only seen at 5 microns wavelength in the spectrometer data, and thus appears red. The dark spots and banded features in the image are clouds and small storms that outline the deeper weather systems and circulation patterns of the planet. They are illuminated from underneath by Saturn's thermal emission, and thus appear in silhouette.

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