The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a new and beautiful picture of the planet Saturn, taken in the summer of the northern hemisphere.
Hubble had previously mapped Saturn last year, showing the planet's rings and some of its icy moons. This previous image was taken as the planet approached 845 million miles from Earth. The new image is from a distance of 839 million miles.
Saturn and its rings can be seen in this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which was taken on July 4, 2020. NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team
Saturn has seasons like those on Earth that occur when the planet is tilted about its axis, so some parts are sometimes closer to the sun than other parts. It's summer here in the northern hemisphere of Saturn, and scientists have used the data to study the weather on the planet.
The researchers found several small atmospheric storms that, unlike the epic storms that have raged on Jupiter for centuries, are "temporary features that appear to come and go with every annual Hubble observation," the scientists said.
Another notable feature of this picture is the slight red tint over the northern hemisphere, while the rest of the planet is tinted yellow and brown due to the composition of its atmosphere. The researchers believe that this red hue could either be due to the higher solar heat this area receives in summer, which changes the atmospheric circulation, or to the increased light, which causes a change in the way that Chemicals appear in the atmosphere.
"It's amazing that Saturn will continue to change seasonally in a few years," chief investigator Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said in a statement.
The Hubble scientists also published this annotated "compass" picture, which shows some of Saturn's moons labeled along with a scale.
These images are composed of separate exposures taken by the WFC3 instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope. Several filters were used to scan narrow wavelength ranges. The color results from the assignment of different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image that is assigned to a single filter. In this case the assigned colors are: Blue: F395N Green: F502N Red: F631N NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team