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Monday, March 27, 2023

Space Photos of the Week: Supersized Saturn and Jumbo Jupiter

In any field, the giants cast the heaviest shadows. And Jupiter and Saturn really have a huge footprint: Astronomers studying our solar system are fixated with them. Why wouldn’t they be? Because the planet is so insanely enormous, some of Jupiter’s storms are larger than Earth itself. The Juno spacecraft is teaching us more and more about this planet’s massive and turbulent atmosphere.

Then there’s Saturn, the gas giant next door. This week we’re digging into the archives of the Cassini spacecraft, which in 2007 captured a unique angle on the planet’s awesome rings. They are composed of ice and look sleek enough to skate on, but you’d better watch your step: Some of the ice particles are as small as grains of sand, and others are as substantial as a mountain range. The rings extend up to 175,000 miles from Saturn, yet for all their breadth, the rings are just about 30 feet thick in most places, making them one irresistible feature for planet scientists.

Not ready to come back to Earth? Get lost in the full space photo collection here.

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