PIA10358: Saturn's Infrared Temperature Snapshot
Target Name: Saturn
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Instrument: IRTF
Product Size: 3000 x 2250 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: IRTF
Full-Res TIFF: PIA10358.tif (20.25 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA10358.jpg (155.6 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

Click here for annotated version of Saturn's Infrared Temperature Snapshot
Annotated Version

Scientists have discovered a wave pattern, or oscillation, in Saturn's atmosphere only visible from Earth every 15 years. The pattern ripples back and forth like a wave within Saturn's upper atmosphere. In this region, temperatures switch from one altitude to the next in a candy cane-like, striped, hot-cold pattern.

The temperature "snapshot" shown in these two images captures two different phases of this wave oscillation: the temperature at Saturn's equator switches from hot to cold, and temperatures on either side of the equator switch from cold to hot every Saturn half-year.

The image on the left was taken in 1997 and shows the temperature at the equator is colder than the temperature at 13 degrees south latitude. Conversely, the image on the right taken in 2006 shows the temperature at the equator is warmer.

These images were taken with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/Infrared Telescope Facility

Image Addition Date:
2008-05-07