The Hubble Space Telescope has completed this year's grand tour of the outer solar system, providing scientists with new images of the giant planets, including Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, and Uranus, which complement past research data from interplanetary spacecraft.
Hubble conducts such grand tours every year, checking how the atmosphere of the solar system's giant planets changes over time. Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn are the largest planets in our solar system. The colors and patterns on their surfaces constantly change because of the dynamic forces that scientists have not fully studied yet.
While robotic spacecraft flying close to these planets have also made detailed snapshots of their surfaces over the last 50 years, Hubble makes it possible to observe them annually, helping scientists track the ever-changing landscapes of these planets more often.
Unlike rocky terrestrial planets like the Earth or Mars, which are close to solar heat, the giant planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are composed of a cold gaseous mixture of hydrogen, helium, ammonia, methane, and water around a dense, hot, and a compact core.
On November 16, NASA announced that the science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope had been extended until the summer of 2026.