Hubble’s stunning images capture changing seasons in Saturn’s Great and Turkish Atmosphere

NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope giving astronomers a view of changes in Saturnthe wide and turbulent atmosphere as the planet’s northern hemisphere summer trends fall as seen in this series of photos taken in 2018, 2019, and 2020 (left to right).

“The small year-to-year changes in Saturn’s color bands are very interesting,” said Amy Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “As Saturn moves towards a collapse in the northern hemisphere, we are seeing a change in the polar and equatorial regions, but we are also seeing a change in sentiment. much shorter timescales. ” Simon is the lead author of a paper on these views published on 11 March 2021, in Journal of Planetary Science.

“What we’ve got is a small year-on-year change in color, possibly cloud height, and winds – it’s no surprise that the changes aren’t huge, because we’re only looking at fractions. a little of the year Saturn, ”said Simon. “We are expecting significant seasonal changes, so this shows the progress towards next season.”

Saturn season transitions

Satble’s Hubble Space Telescope images taken in 2018, 2019, and 2020 as the planet’s northern hemisphere summer trends fall. Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI / A. Simon / R. Roth

Hubble data shows that the equator got 5 to 10 percent brighter from 2018 to 2020, and the winds changed slightly. In 2018, winds measured near the equator were about 1,000 miles per hour (about 1,600 kilometers per hour), higher than those measured by NASA. Cassini spacecraft in 2004-2009, when they were about 800 miles per hour (about 1,300 kilometers per hour). In 2019 and 2020 they reduced back to Cassini distances. Saturn’s winds also change with altitude, so the change in measured speed could mean that the clouds in 2018 were about 37 miles (about 60 kilometers) deeper than those. measured at the Cassini mission. More ideas are needed to explain what is happening.

Saturn is the sixth planet from our sun and an orbit at a distance of about 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) from the Sun. It takes about 29 years on Earth to orbit the Sun, making each season on Saturn longer than seven years on Earth. The Earth is oriented to the sun, which changes the amount of sunlight each hemisphere receives as our planet moves into its orbit. It is this variation in solar energy that drives our seasonal changes. Saturn is also biased, so as the seasons change over that long world, the change in sunlight may be causing some of the last atmospheric changes. see.

Like Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, Saturn is a “gas giant” made up mostly of hydrogen and helium, although it may contain a deep rocky heart. Large storms, some almost as large as the Earth, sometimes explode from deep into the atmosphere. Since many of the planets discovered around other stars are also gas giants, astronauts want to learn more about how a giant gas atmosphere works.

Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system, more than 9 times wider than Earth, with more than 50 moons and an amazing system of rings made mostly of water ice. Two of these branches, Titan and Enceladus, appear to have oceans beneath their frozen barks that can sustain life. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is the only moon in our solar system with a thick feel, consisting of clouds dripping molten methane and other hydrocarbons on the surface, which creating rivers, lochs and oceans. This combination of chemicals is thought to be similar to those on Earth billions of years ago when life first appeared. NASA’s Dragonfly mission flies over the surface of Titan, crashing down in several locations to find the key building blocks of life.

Details: “Midsummer Atmospheric Modifications in Saturn’s Northern Hemisphere from the OPble Hubble Program” by Amy A. Simon, Ricardo Hueso, Agustín Sánchez-Lavega and Michael H. Wong, 11 March 2021, Journal of Planetary Science.
DOI: 10.3847 / PSJ / abe40f

The Saturn observations are part of Hubble’s Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) Legacy program. “The OPAL program allows us to monitor each of the outer planets with Hubble each year, enabling new discoveries and observing how each planet changes over time,” said Simon, lead researcher for OPAL.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international collaboration between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). The telescope will be controlled by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science activity. STScI is run for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, DC