As it turns out, it’s also summer in Saturn’s northern hemisphere.
Saturn, one of the largest planets in our solar system, truly is the lord of the rings, and the latest snapshot of the NASA / ESA Hubble Telescope, taken on July 4, 2020, when this world was 1.35 billion km away proves just that.
This new image of Saturn was taken during the summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere.
The Hubble image of the lord of the rings revealed a series of small atmospheric storms.
These are transient features that seem to come and go with each annual Hubble observation.
The bands in the northern hemisphere remain pronounced as seen in Hubble’s observations in 2019, with several groups changing slightly in color from year to year.
The atmosphere of Saturn is mainly hydrogen and helium with traces of ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrocarbons that give it a yellowish-brown color.
Hubble photographed a slight reddish haze over the northern hemisphere in this colored composite.
This may be due to warming from increased sunlight, which could change atmospheric circulation or perhaps remove ice from aerosols in the atmosphere.
Another theory is that the increase in sunlight in the summer months is changing the amounts of photochemical turbidity produced.
“It’s amazing that even over a few years, we see seasonal changes on Saturn,” explained lead investigator Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Conversely, the just-now-visible south pole has a blue hue, reflecting changes in Saturn’s winter hemisphere, NASA revealed.
The sharp view of Hubble discerns the structure of the finely engraved concentric ring. The rings are mainly made of pieces of ice, with sizes ranging from small grains to giant rocks.
How and when the rings were formed remains one of the greatest mysteries of our solar system.
Common knowledge is that they are as old as the planet, over 4 billion years old.
But because the rings are so shiny, like freshly fallen snow, one ambitious theory is that they may have developed during a time when dinosaurs walked on Earth.
Astronomers agree that there is no adequate theory that defines how the rings could have appeared in the last few hundred million years.
“However, 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,” explained team member Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley.