Saturn rings shine bright in gorgeous new NASA Hubble portrait

13 Septembre, 2019, 18:30 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • NASA snapped a new image of Saturn and it’s a real stunner					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner			@MikeWehner					September 12th 2019 at 4:53 PM					 Share Tweet

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Saturn on 20 June 2019 as the planet made its closest approach to Earth this year, at approximately 1.36 billion kilometres away. A large storm spotted near the North Pole in 2018 is now gone, but an enigmatic hexagonal jetstream system at the top of the planet is still going strong.

"The second in the yearly series, this image is part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project". "In Saturn's case, scientists are tracking weather patterns and other changes to identify trends", NASA and ESA officials said in an image description. "This gives us a magnificent view of its bright icy structure", ESA said. Cassini orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. The hexagon is so large that four Earths could fit inside its boundaries. A new Hubble portrait of the ringed planet shows some things change and some stay the same. Among them is Mimas, the "Death Star" moon - so called because its massive Herschel crater gives it a look akin to the fictional moonlike space station from "Star Wars".

NASA also posted a video of the Hubble orbiting the moons of Saturn to its YouTube page.

Finally, there's Saturn itself, which shines like a ruddy jewel in the black of space.

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According to the Hubble team, Saturn's color is the result of "smog-like" hazes resulting from photochemical reactions. "Below the haze lie clouds of ammonia ice crystals, as well as deeper, unseen lower-level clouds of ammonium hydrosulphide and water".

Since the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, its goal has been to study not only distant astronomical objects, but also the planets within our Solar System.

The planet's banded structure is caused by winds and clouds at different altitudes. They reveal a planet with a turbulent, dynamic atmosphere.

NASA routinely snaps new images of the gaseous planets in our solar system, so you can expect another updated image sometime next year.

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