The new image from NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope was taken on July 4, 2020, when the rich, giant world was 1,350 million kilometers from Earth. This new photo of Saturn was taken in the northern hemisphere of the planet during the summer. This is reported by NASA.
July 4, 2020, NASA Space Telescope. Hubble snapped a picture of Saturn. This image clearly shows two icy moons of Saturn: Mimas on the right and Enceladus below. This image was taken as part of the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand atmospheric dynamics and the evolution of our solar system’s gas giants. In the case of Saturn, astronomers continue to track weather changes and storms.
Image Credits: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M. H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and the OPAL team.
The Hubble Telescope has detected a series of small atmospheric storms. These are temporary features that appear and disappear with every annual Hubble sighting. The northern hemisphere stripe remains strong, as seen from the 2019 telescope observations, with several stripes changing slightly in color from year to year. The ring planet’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, with traces of ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrocarbons that give it a yellowish-brown color.
Hubble photographed light reddish haze over the northern hemisphere in this color composition. This could be due to heating from sunlight, which can either alter atmospheric circulation or possibly remove ice in the atmosphere.
Another theory is that increased sunlight during the summer months changes the amount of photochemical fog produced.
It’s amazing that even after a few years we are seeing seasonal changes on Saturn.
Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt
The sharp Hubble imaging resolves the precisely etched concentric ring structure. The rings are mostly made from pieces of ice ranging in size from tiny grains to giant boulders. How and when the rings formed remains one of the biggest mysteries of our solar system. It is generally accepted that they are of the same age as the planet, i.e. they are over 4 billion years old. But because the rings are as bright as recently fallen snow, a rival theory is that they may have formed during the era of the dinosaurs. Many astronomers agree that there is no satisfactory theory to explain how the rings may have formed over the past several hundred million years.
The new image clearly shows two icy moons of Saturn: Mimas on the right and Enceladus below.
The Hubble Space Telescope is an international collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland operates the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble scientific research. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for the Study of Astronomy in Washington, DC.