The photo is part of a long-running program called Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy, through which each year, Hubble turns to monitor the weather on Saturn, Jupiter and other distant worlds. Since the last image, taken in 2019, the atmosphere of Saturn's northern hemisphere has become slightly redder while its southern hemisphere has become slightly bluer.
"It's amazing that even over a few years, we're seeing seasonal changes on Saturn," lead investigator Amy Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement Thursday (July 24).
Hubble captured the new image on July 4, when Saturn was about 839 million miles (1.35 billion kilometers) from Earth.
The redder northern hemisphere likely stems from sunnier conditions accompanying the local summer, according to the statement. Increased sunlight could either heat the northern hemisphere a bit and interfere with local atmospheric composition or create haze.
Hubble also spotted two of Saturn's moons in the new image: on the right is Mimas, which sports one massive crater covering much of its surface, and to the bottom is icy Enceladus, one of scientists' most intriguing targets to understand whether life exists elsewhere in our solar system.
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