By Elizabeth Prata
With the Hubble Telescope’s 30-year anniversary back in the news I thought I’d reshare my thoughts from April 2010 on the same subject
First, new thoughts on Saturn. Thanks to Hubble, scientists are still perplexed that some of their theories of how the universe was created don’t flesh out when confronted with the physical reality of it- CNN
Saturn is truly the lord of the rings in this latest snapshot from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, taken on July 4, 2020, when the opulent giant world was 839 million miles from Earth. This new Saturn image was taken during summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere. Hubble found a number of small atmospheric storms. These are transient features that appear to come and go with each yearly Hubble observation.
The banding in the northern hemisphere remains pronounced from Hubble’s 2019 observations, with several bands slightly changing color from year to year. The ringed planet’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium with traces of ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrocarbons that give it a yellowish-brown color. Hubble photographed a slight reddish haze over the northern hemisphere in this color composite. This may be due to heating from increased sunlight, which could either change the atmospheric circulation, or perhaps remove ices from aerosols in the atmosphere.
Another theory is that the increased sunlight in the summer months is changing the amounts of photochemical haze produced. It’s amazing that even over a few years, we’re seeing seasonal changes on Saturn, said lead investigator Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Conversely, the just now visible south pole has a blue hue, reflecting changes in Saturn’s winter hemisphere. Hubble’s sharp view resolves the finely etched concentric ring structure. The rings are mostly made of pieces of ice, with sizes ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders. Just how and when the rings formed remains one of our solar system’s biggest mysteries.
Conventional wisdom is that they are as old as the planet, over 4 billion years. But because the rings are so bright like freshly fallen snow, a competing theory is that they may have formed during the age of the dinosaurs. However, many astronomers agree that there is no satisfactory theory that explains how rings could have formed within just the past few hundred million years. This image is taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system’s gas giant planets. In Saturn’s case, astronomers continue tracking shifting weather patterns and storms.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.
In this nicely written article from 2010, the scientists behind the Hubble Telescope and the ingenuity of the scientists are extolled. More on the point of the blog entry in a moment, but first, information about the photo from Hubble Site:
“This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble’s launch and deployment into an orbit around Earth.”
“NASA’s best-recognized, longest-lived, and most prolific space observatory zooms past a threshold of 20 years of operation this month. On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle and crew of STS-31 were launched to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into a low Earth orbit. What followed was one of the most remarkable sagas of the space age. Hubble’s unprecedented capabilities made it one of the most powerful science instruments ever conceived by humans, and certainly the one most embraced by the public. Hubble discoveries revolutionized nearly all areas of current astronomical research, from planetary science to cosmology. And, its pictures were unmistakably out of this world.”
“At times Hubble’s starry odyssey played out like a space soap opera, with broken equipment, a bleary-eyed primary mirror, and even a space shuttle rescue/repair mission cancellation. But the ingenuity and dedication of Hubble scientists, engineers, and NASA astronauts have allowed the observatory to rebound time and time again. Its crisp vision continues to challenge scientists with exciting new surprises and to enthrall the public with ever more evocative color images.”
It says in Romans 1:18-23, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
I find it interesting – and sad – that both articles extol the virtues of the scientists who made the device that reveals the universe, while failing to boast about the God who created it. The photos show it’s not an ode to the Hubble Telescope, it is an Ode to God.