Shear Delight

Swirling clouds in Saturn's atmosphere

Monstrous eddies in Saturn’s upper atmosphere are clearly visible in this near-infrared image from Cassini, taken in November 2009 and released on NASA’s planetary Photojournal on February 4.

Winds on Saturn are some of the fastest in the solar system, blowing around the planet in opposing bands at speeds of several hundreds of miles per hour. The bright equatorial zone, shown here with the rings seen edge-on and their darker shadows just below, circles the planet in an eastward direction, causing dramatic eddies and shears where it meets the boundary of the westward-moving southern bands.

Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute