GREENBELT, Md. – Recently there has been a lot of exciting space news. The Pentagon is talking about the existence of “vehicles out of the world.” NASA has discovered a solar system like ours. And comet NEOWISE is lighting up the night sky. If all that’s not exciting enough, NASA officials are now giving an amazing idea to the world of the sixth planet Saturn.
Taken from the Hubble Space Telescope, Saturn’s icy rings are brilliantly visible in the July 4 image. Distinct color bands can be seen on the surface of the planet. The Hubble photo also captures two of Saturn’s 82 moons. Mimas is seen on the right and Enceladus is at the bottom of the scene over 800 million miles away.
Summer on Saturn
The NASA team in Maryland says it is currently summer in the northern hemisphere. Some scientists believe this is the cause of the light red fog that covers Saturn. Overheating can cause increased sun exposure to remove icy aerosols from the atmosphere.
It may also be changing the amounts of photochemical mist produced. At the South Pole, Saturn appears to have a blue fog, probably because it’s winter there.
“It’s amazing that even over a few years, we’re seeing seasonal changes on Saturn,” Goddard Space Flight Center investigator Amy Simon says in a press release.
What are those iconic rings made of?
The authors of the new report also make new observations about Saturn’s famous rings. They believe that rings are mostly pieces of ice that vary in size from small grains to large rocks. NASA says it’s unclear how and when Saturn’s rings were formed, but that doesn’t stop scientists from offering different opinions about it.
Some astronomers believe that the formation of circles goes back to when the planet was born more than four billion years ago. Others speculate that the rings are smaller as they are so shiny. Opponents of this theory do not see how vibrant rings can form in the last few hundred million years.
“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft measurement of tiny grains that rain in Saturn’s atmosphere suggests that the rings could only last for 300 million more years, which is one of the arguments for a young age of the ring system, ”says Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley.
Hubble has been in space since 1990. Edwin Hubble, the name telescope, gained fame in 1920 for discovering galaxies beyond the Milky Way at his observatory in California.
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