The first official image of Saturn from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) does not disappoint.
On Friday (June 30), NASA released a stunning image of JWST that shows the ringed planet in a whole new light. NASA officials said the image, taken June 25 by the observatory’s NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) instrument, is “already of interest to researchers.” Image description.
They added that “Saturn itself appears very dark at this infrared wavelength observed by the telescope, as all sunlight falling on the atmosphere is absorbed by methane.” “However, the icy rings remain relatively bright, resulting in an unusual appearance of Saturn in a web.”
The newly released image was taken during JWST’s 20-hour Saturn-observing campaign. We got a sneak peek at the results of this campaign a few days ago, via raw JWST images posted on the unofficial website. JWST feed. As the new photo shows, the handling makes all the difference.
Related: Saturn: everything you need to know about the sixth planet from the sun
While Saturn’s rings are the net star of the new image, they also highlight Enceladus, Dione and Tethys, three of Saturn’s 145 known moons.
Enceladus is of particular interest to astrobiologists, because the satellite is believed to have an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell. The moon releases some of its groundwater into space via geysers near its south pole, exciting features discovered by NASA’s Cassini probe in 2005 and recently observed by JWST.
JWST is designed to delve into deep time, giving astronomers a look at some of the very first stars and galaxies in the universe. But, as this new snapshot of Saturn shows, the observatory can see things closer to home, too.
In fact, the $10 billion telescope also took amazing pictures of Uranus and gave us amazing views. Jupiter and its aurora borealis. And JWST is just getting started: The observatory was launched on December 25, 2021 and began science operations last summer.
“Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff.”