The Hubble Space Telescope recently snapped a new image of Saturn showing its rings with stunningly clear details, and Earth’s inhabitants rarely got to see such a clear view. NASA described Saturn as the “Lord of the Rings” in its latest announcement of the new image, taken on July 4. The image was taken as part of the exoplanet heritage project, which helps scientists study gas giants in our solar system. Astronomers are eager to track the changing weather patterns and storms on Saturn in order to understand their potential evolution.
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Snapshot of space: a storm on Saturn
NASA said the image highlights the summer in the northern hemisphere. So it’s not only amazing, but it captures important details about the changing weather on the planet. A number of small air storms are shown. It attributed the red fog that can be seen over the northern hemisphere due to the increase in the sun’s temperature that comes during the summer. And NASA added that heat may affect ice in the atmosphere, or that sunlight may affect the production of photochemical fog.
“It is surprising that even for a few years, we have been witnessing seasonal changes in Saturn,” said lead researcher Amy Simon at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Instead, the blue color seen in the planet’s south pole – barely visible – highlights how Saturn changed during the winter.
Mimas and Enceladus, two of Saturn’s moons, can be seen clearly in the picture. NASA had previously expected that Enceladus could support life. The famous ice rings appear on this planet in clear detail. But how and when the episodes were formed remains a great mystery. One theory suggests that it is as old as the planet itself, just over 4 billion years old. However, the brightness of the rings indicates that they could have formed in recent times, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.