Hubble Saturn - high resolution space images - Sky Image Lab

Hubble Saturn

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Anyone who has ever peered at Saturn through a small telescope is immediately enticed by its elegant rings, which make the far-flung planet one of the most exotic-looking, opulent worlds in the solar system.

The latest view of Saturn from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures exquisite details of the ring system—which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings—and atmospheric details that once could only be captured by spacecraft visiting the distant world.

One such intriguing feature is the long-lasting hexagon-shaped structure circling the planet's north pole. It is a mysterious six-sided pattern caused by a high-speed jet stream. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft first discovered the "hexagon" during its flyby in 1981. The hexagon is so large that four Earths could fit inside its boundaries. (There is no similar structure at Saturn's south pole.)

Other features, however, are not as long-lasting. A large storm in the north polar region spotted by Hubble last year has disappeared. Smaller, convective storms—called super "thunderheads"—such as the one just above the center of the planet's image, also come and go.

Saturn's appearance changes with its seasons, which occur because Saturn's equator is tilted 27 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. The Earth, similarly, has seasons because our planet is tilted by about 23.5 degrees, but seasons on Saturn last more than seven years. This new Saturn image was taken during summer in the planet's northern hemisphere.

The amber colors of the planet in this image come from summer smog-like hazes, produced in photochemical reactions driven by solar ultraviolet radiation. Below the haze lie clouds of ammonia ice crystals, as well as deeper, unseen lower-level clouds of ammonium hydrosulfide and water. Saturn's banded structure is caused by alternating winds that result in clouds at different altitudes at each latitude.

Saturn's trademark ring system is now tilted toward Earth, giving viewers a magnificent look at its bright, icy structure. The high resolution of Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 allows us to see numerous ringlets and the fainter inner rings.

The planet teased and tantalized Galileo Galilei in 1610, who was astonished when he first saw its rings through the newly invented telescope. However, Galileo mistook them for weird appendages stuck to the planet, because his handheld telescope wasn’t very powerful. Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens first identified the rings as a separate phenomenon in 1655, but still he thought they were a continuous disk encircling the planet. Today, we know the rings are mostly made of pieces of ice, with sizes ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders. And they are constantly moving around the planet in an intricate cosmic dance.

The age of Saturn's ring system continues to be debated. And, even more perplexing, no one knows what cosmic catastrophe formed the rings. Additional clues came as NASA's Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017. NASA ended the mission in this way to prevent the spacecraft from accidentally crashing into one of Saturn's moons, but Cassini's dramatic finish also provided valuable scientific insights. During its final orbits, Cassini measured the mass of the ring system as merely 1/1000th the mass of Earth's Moon. Some astronomers have interpreted this low mass to mean that the rings may only be 100 million years old, a fraction of Saturn's age. However, there is still no consensus among planetary astronomers today.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Saturn on June 20, 2019, as the planet made its closest approach to Earth, at about 845 million miles away.

This image is the second in a yearly series of snapshots taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system's gas giant planets. In Saturn's case, astronomers will be able to track shifting weather patterns and other changes to identify trends.

Credits NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and the OPAL Team

Note: 
Sizes are in inches and these are our defaults. If you require custom border sizes or no border, then please contact us or specify in the comments section at Checkout.

Unframed Premium Prints

Prints over 11"x14" come with borders by default.

Paper Size Image Size Border
04"x06" 04"x06" 0"
05"x07" 05"x07" 0"
08"x10" 08"x10" 0"
11"x14" 10"x13" 0.5"
12"x18" 11"x17" 0.5"
16"x20" 15"x19" 0.5"
24"x30" 22"x28" 1"
24"x36" 22"34" 1"
30"x40" 28"x38" 1"


Fine Art Prints

All Fine Art prints will have a border.

Paper Size Image Size Border
08"x10" 07"x09" .5"
11"x14" 10"x13" .5"
12"x18" 11"x17" .5"
16"x20" 14"x18" 1"
24"x30" 22"x28" 1"
30"x40" 28"x38" 1"
40"x50" 36"x46" 2"
    All images are cropped to fit the selected size within +/- .5". Therefore, some part of the image may not appear in the final print, when comparing to the online thumbnail. This missing part may appear on the sides or the top and bottom. This is a standard printing practice so that the finished product will fit standard frame sizes. This cropping is the default action.

    If you would like uncropped images, tell us by putting a note in the comment section at Checkout. Keep in mind that the uncropped image size will always be smaller than the ordered size.

    The actual sizes of objects in the image may not vary within 1/2" due to printer resizing during the final print imaging on the printers.

    Shipping Policies

    Free Shipping for Small Unframed Prints

    • Orders 11x14 and smaller that fit in a smaller mailer will be shipped flat by USPS First Class for free to anywhere within the US.

    Unframed Prints larger than 11x14

    • Our Premium and Fine Art prints larger than 11x14 will be carefully rolled, and shipped in a sturdy tube.

    Large Size & Custom Size Products

    • Products over 40" long that are shipped flat, such as MetalPrints, may require freight shipping. Please allow additional time for the delivery.
    • Custom sizes may incur an increased shipping charge due to special handling required.

    Shipping Outside of Contiguous US, Expedited Shipping, and Special Requests

    • We ship worldwide and have served customers from over 100 different countries.
    • We cannot be responsible for any customs duties and tariffs imposed on our shipments to your country. Please contact us at support@skyimagelab.com for any questions.

    Shipping Pricing

    Unframed prints under 11x14 are free for Economy USA orders. For standard shipping, they are $6. For all else, shipping cost are based on price per item. Please see below.

    Note: Shipping is not a profit center for us. With that said, we will package your order in a protected, industry-standard method so that the order arrives safely at your door.

    Note: Shipping transit times below are dependent on the carrier's ability to deliver on time and are not guaranteed by Sky Image Lab.

    Economy Shipping (USA)

    Item Price Destination Production Days Days in Transit Total Days Shipping Cost

    Up to $60

    USA

    2 3-6 5-8 $18
    $61-$209 USA 3-5 3-6 6-11

    $23

    $210-$599 USA 3-5 3-6 6-11 $28
    $600+ USA 4-6 3-6 7-12 $135


    Standard Shipping (USA)

     Item Price Destination Production Days Days in Transit Total Days Shipping Cost

    Up to $60

     USA

    2 2-4 4-6 $23
    $61-$209 USA 3-5 2-4 6-9

    $28

    $210-$599 USA 3-5 3-5 6-10 $35
    $600+ USA 4-6 3-5 7-11 $145

     

    International Shipping

    International shipping will be billed at cost depending on the shipping location.

    Publisher's Note:
    Unless specified, all images will be printed in either portrait or landscape orientation in the size you specify. The first product image on this page is cropped as a square for site consistency.

    Larger sized unframed prints will come with a border by default to allow your local framer to present your piece according to your preferences.

    Media Choices

    MetalPrint Ready to Hang

    Increasingly our most popular option. Dyes are directly infused into specially coated aluminum sheets, creating a highly vibrant, detailed print. Images will take on an almost magical luminescence.

    The print will be paired with a custom Float Mount Hanger, allowing for easy display that floats 0.5" off the wall.

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    Gallary-wrapped Canvas

    Bring depth to any room with our canvas option. Made with a print on Professional Photo Paper bonded onto museum quality canvas. The print is then wrapped around an artist's stretcher frame at a 1-1.5" depth, with finished mounting hardware.

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    Unframed Prints

    Premium Prints
    Uses Kodak ENDURA Premier Luster paper, providing a slight gloss, often pearl-like texture.

    Fine Art Prints
    Differentiate your presentation and show your audience how much you care about quality with Breathing Color Elegance Velvet paper. It has a high white point, remarkable ink load capacity, and best-in-class image quality that far exceeds the limitations of virtually every paper of its kind.

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