The Hubble Space Telescope has been wondering the solar system ever since it was launched in 1990. In that time this piece of machinery has been able to capture some of the most memorable images of our universe, and its latest picture of Saturn is no different.
The image seen below was taken on 4 July 2020, during Saturn’s summer period in the northern hemisphere when it was just 839 million miles from Earth. In the image, you can faintly see a number of small atmospheric storms. According to NASA, these are storms are transient features that appear to come and go with each yearly Hubble observation.
In terms of what Saturn is actually made up of, its atmosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and helium with traces of ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrocarbons. This is the reason Saturn has a yellowish-brown color.
You may also notice an unusual red haze over the northern hemisphere. NASA believes this could be a result of heating from increased sunlight, which could either change the atmospheric circulation or remove ices from aerosols in the atmosphere. Another theory that could explain this red haze is that the increased sunlight in the summer months is changing the amounts of photochemical haze produced.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon