BY MARK KAUFMAN5 HOURS AGO
Yes, this is a real image of Saturn.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a new, exceptionally crisp picture of the ringed gas giant in early July, and the space agency posted the image of the planet on Thursday.
“Hubble’s sharp view resolves the finely etched concentric ring structure,” wrote NASA, noting the rings are composed of chunks of ice ” ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders.”
Hubble orbits about 340 miles above Earth, and the telescope captured this detailed view of Saturn while the planet orbited 839 million miles from Earth.
Sharp images of the gas giant allow planetary scientists to observe the planet’s changing atmosphere. For example, NASA researchers spotted a “slight reddish haze” over Saturn’s north polar region, possibly indicating a changing atmosphere or heating by the sun.
“It’s amazing that even over a few years, we’re seeing seasonal changes on Saturn,” Amy Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.