Hubble Captured a Breathtaking New Image of Saturn, And It Barely Looks Real

A stunning image of Saturn from Hubble has people unsure about its validity. The image is so clear that Saturn appears to be floating in outer space. What it is.

On June 20, 2019, the ringed planet was photographed as it approached Earth at a distance of 1.36 billion kilometers (845 million miles). The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on Hubble was used to take the clear picture.

This is a beautiful picture that belongs on a gallery wall. (So long as a space nerd cuted that gallery.) But it's also scientific; it's not only visually appealing.

The picture is a component of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program. In order to better comprehend the atmospheres of the gas giant planets in our Solar System throughout time, OPAL aims to amass long-baseline pictures of these bodies. As part of the OPAL program, this is Saturn's second annual image.

This is an older OPAL image of Saturn from 6 June 2018. (NASA/ESA/Amy Simon/OPAL Team/J. DePasquale/STScI)

Saturn always seemed so serene. regal, even. But a closer look shows there's a lot going on. Jupiter comes to mind when we think of storms and gas giants because of its well-known horizontal storm bands and, of course, the Great Red Spot. But Saturn is also a highly turbulent, energetic planet.

We are aware of the disappearance of a sizable hexagonal storm in the planet's north polar region thanks to the OPAL program. Smaller storms also commonly arrive and go. The planet's storm bands, which are mostly ammonia ice at the top, have also undergone slight alterations.

But some characteristics have remained.

The hexagonal storm that Cassini discovered is still present near Saturn's North Pole. In fact, that feature was first discovered in 1981 by the Voyager 1 mission.

Saturn's northern polar vortex captured by Cassini. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.)

However, this brand-new Hubble image of Saturn is primarily just stunning. Saturn's beauty would capture your attention even if you knew nothing about it.

Composite photo from 2018 showing six of Saturn's moons (NASA/ESA/ A. Simon/GSFC/OPAL/J. DePasquale/STScI)

A version of the Hubble image with additional annotations was also made public by NASA.

A time-lapse film of Hubble photos of Saturn was further provided by NASA. The moons, or at least some of Saturn's 60 or so moons, are depicted in their orbits around the gas giant. It consists of 33 individual photographs taken on June 19 and 20, 2019.

And This:

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