At a distance of nearly 839 million miles from Earth, Saturn’s mesmeric summertime was captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on July 4. Hubble recorded images of Saturn's northern hemisphere, inclined towards the Earth, and with slight red haze due to the increased sunlight amid summers. As per NASA's statement, the excessive sunlight could impact ice content on the "lord of the rings".
In the stunning image, Saturn was visible as just a spot of bright light with the naked human eye accompanied by two of its moons, Mimas and Enceladus. Moreover, Hubble also found a number of small atmospheric storms, which NASA described as the transient feature that “comes and goes” each year. But the several bands of summer sunlight slightly changed colour from year to year. Nasa said that the mystic “red haze” was either due to the change in atmospheric circulation and perhaps removed ices from aerosols in the atmosphere. However, NASA also suspects that the increased sunlight in the summer months is changing the amounts of photochemical haze produced on the planet.
(NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of Saturn on July 4, 2020.)
NASA's Cassini spacecraft measurements of tiny grains raining into Saturn's atmosphere suggest the rings can only last for 300 million more years, which is one of the arguments for a young age of the ring system, said team member Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley.
It's amazing that even over a few years, we're seeing seasonal changes on Saturn, said lead investigator Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Additionally, one can see the just-now-visible south pole with a prominent blue hue that explains the changes in Saturn's winter hemisphere. From the image newly captured, NASA scientists observed answers to some deeply embedded questions about the concentric ring structure of Saturn. “The rings are mostly made of pieces of ice, with sizes ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders. Just how and when the rings formed remains one of our solar system's biggest mysteries,” the space agency wrote in a statement. Further, it said, “because the rings are so bright – like freshly fallen snow – a competing theory is that they may have formed during the age of the dinosaurs.” According to NASA, many astronomers say that there is no concrete theory that explains if Saturn’s rings could have been formed in just the past few hundred million years.
(Images Credit: NASA)