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Hubble’s Grand Tour of the Outer Solar System

NASA and the European Space Agency released fresh looks at Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. All four planets are gas giants, making them very unlike Earth or Mars, which are rocky.

As NASA said in a statement on the Hubble images, Stretching from 500 million to 3 billion miles from the sun, these monsters are as remote as they are mysterious, dwelling so far from the sun that water instantly freezes to solid ice.Hubble, a joint project of NASA and ESA, annually monitors the outer planets so scientists can track weather and atmospheric changes over time. The images are part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program (OPAL) taken in September and October.

On Jupiter on Sept. 4, the telescope noticed new storms. Amy Simon of the Goddard Space Flight Center said that every time we get new data down, the image quality and detail in the cloud features always blow me away. A Sept. 7 view of Saturn revealed color shifts connected to seasonal changes. Hubble’s sharp eyelets researchers dial in which bands of the stripy planet are changing colors.

Uranus is sporting a bright white polar region in Hubble’s Oct. 25 image. NASA said that the researchers are studying how the brightening polar hood results from changes in the concentration of atmospheric methane gas and the characteristics of haze particles, as well as the atmospheric flow patterns.

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