Hubble snaps Saturn in all its glory during close fly-by

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 13, 2019

This new Hubble Space Telescope view of Saturn, taken in late June of 2019, reveals the giant planet's iconic rings.

Another mysterious feature is the long-lasting hexagon-shaped structure circling the planet's north pole.

"The second in the yearly series, this image is part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project".

The above image also gives new clarity to Saturn's rings, which NASA said are "as stunning as ever".

Saturn hosts many recognizable features, most notably its trademark ring system, which is now tilted towards Earth. "This gives us a magnificent view of its bright icy structure". Cassini orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. The perplexing polygon was first discovered by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1981 and is caused by a high-speed jet stream. The hexagon is so large that four Earths could fit inside its boundaries. NASA's orbital observatory takes annual snapshots of the ringed planet, uncovering each time new information about its atmosphere.

Finally, there's Saturn itself, which shines like a ruddy jewel in the black of space. Solar ultraviolet radiation drives these reactions, according to scientists, who explain that the haze covers lower levels of ammonium hydrosulphide and water clouds, as well as clouds formed from ammonia ice crystals. Astronomers say these bands are clouds and wind that exist at different altitudes. It's a handsome planet, and the Hubble Space Telescope know how to make it look its best. The orbiting telescope typically gazes into the deepest expanses of space to make cosmic discoveries, but its camera eye can reveal surprising details about planets closer to home.

In a blog post, NASA said the images snapped by the telescope "are more than just beauty shots", adding that they shed new light on a planet that has "a turbulent, dynamic atmosphere". "However, Hubble has one advantage over space probes; it can look at these objects periodically and observe them over much longer periods than any passing probe could".

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