Webb takes a spectacular infrared look at Saturn and its brilliant rings

The James Webb Space Telescope has turned its attention to Saturn as part of a program to test the observatory’s ability to detect faint moons and subtle details in its splendid ring system. Needless to say, scientists were thrilled with the results, capturing images showing the rings virtually blazing at near-infrared wavelengths, along with three of Saturn’s moons. Deeper images are planned to reveal more details about the planet’s fainter rings, including the dim G ring and the diffuse E ring, which is fed by geysers erupted from the ice moon Enceladus. Saturn itself appears extremely dark because methane gas absorbs almost all of the light hitting the atmosphere.

Saturn and three of its moons – Dione, Enceladus and Tethys – as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope. Images: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, M. Tiscareno (SETI Institute), M. Hedman (University of Idaho), M. El Moutamid (Cornell University), M. Showalter (SETI Institute), L. Fletcher (University of Leicester), H. Hammel (AURA); image processing by J. DePasquale (STScI)