NASA’s Webb Telescope Captures Stunning Images Of Saturn’s Spectacular Rings

hero jwst image of saturn
NASA's James Space Webb Telescope (JWST) continues to dazzle with yet another stunning image of Saturn's spectacular rings. The image was captured by Webb on June 25, 2023, and was part of the observatory's first near-infrared observations of the mammoth-ringed planet.

JWST has been utilized to capture images of objects in space in different wavelengths and at a higher resolution than possible by any other telescope in space or on Earth. In one of the most recent images released from NASA, Webb delivers an image of Saturn where the planet itself appears very dark, due to methane gas absorbing most of the sunlight hitting the atmosphere. The icy rings, however, appear bright, highlighting three of the planet's moons that can be seen to the left of the ringed planet.

annotated jwst image of saturn
Annotated JWST image of Saturn's rings and moons.

The image was taken as part of NASA's Webb Guaranteed Time Observation program 1247. The intent of the program was to search for faint moons around Saturn and its bright rings. Scientists hope to be able to find newly discovered moons that could help them to piece together a more complete picture of the current system of Saturn, as well as its past, according to a recent NASA blog post.

The scientists were given an Easter egg while searching for more potential moons orbiting around Saturn, as it also provided clear details within the planet's ring system, along with several of Saturn's moons - Dione, Enceladus, and Tethys. In deeper images not shared by NASA, the team will be able to delve deeper into a few of the planet's fainter rings, which include the G ring and the diffuse E ring, neither being visible in the shared image.

JWST is part of a long history of NASA space telescopes to observe Saturn's rings and atmosphere for many decades. NASA says the most recent observations by Webb of Saturn are only "a hint" at what it is capable of adding to the ringed planet's story.
Tags:  space, NASA, moon, saturn, jwst