On March 20, when the Earth is about to experience northeastern or vernal ocean currents, the Southern Hemisphere in the Northern Hemisphere, and the onset of autumn spring, we are reminded that the changed seasons is not exclusive to our planet.
For the past few years, Hubble has been observing Saturn as the seasons of the planet have passed, and in the newly released GIF, you will see changes with the naked eye. The data and analysis, published in the journal Planetary Science, covered the period 2018 to 2020. Saturn has a shake relative to its 27-degree orbit, which is closer to Earth’s 23 degrees. However, it takes longer to orbit the Sun, so the seasonal deficit of each Saturn is about 7.5 years instead of the four months we experience on Earth.
The northern summer ornament on the ringed planet took place in May 2017, meaning the Hubble Observatory caught Midsummer in Saturn’s northern hemisphere between 2018 and 2020. Observations show that the equatorial region has become 5-10 percent brighter during this 3-year period. The color of the atmosphere also changed due to chemical reactions induced by sunlight in the planet’s atmosphere. Dr Amy Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said in a statement, “These small-year-year changes in Saturn’s color bands are interesting.”
“As Saturn moves towards its northern hemisphere, we see the polar and equatorial regions changing, but we also see that the atmosphere changes over a much shorter period of time.” The team also reports changes in wind speed around the equator. In 2018, it appeared that equatorial winds were moving at a speed of 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) per hour. It was more than double the measurements carried around the planet by the Cassini spacecraft. These rapid winds calmed back to the Cassini speed seen between 2019 and 2020.
The measurement based on the speed of the clouds, so the team considers that the change in speed was due to clouds being visible from different heights in the atmosphere. “What we’ve got is a slight change in color over the years, probably some change in the height of the clouds and the wind – it’s no surprise that the changes aren’t huge, because we’re only seeing a small part of the Saturn year,” Simon added.
“We expect a big change in a seasonal timescale, so it shows progress towards the next season.” Simon Hubble’s is the lead investigator of the Outer Planets Atmosphere Legacy (OPAL) program, which has provided important insights into the solar system’s giant planets, including keeping an eye on Neptune’s mysterious dark storm.