Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 10, 2015

The Two Sides of Japetus
The Two Sides of Japetus

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

The Saturnian moon Japetus possesses, as you know, both a Light Side and a Dark Side. Planetary Scientists think that Japetus' (approx. 914 miles, or 1470,93 Km across) Dark/Light Asymmetry was actually created by Material - of still unknown nature and origin - migrating away from the Dark Side. For a simulation of how Planetary Scientists think the aforementioned Dark/Light Asymmetry formed, please refer to the so-called "Thermal Runaway Model" at The illuminated Terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing Hemisphere of Japetus; North is up and rotated 43° to the right (dX).

This image was taken in Green Light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on January 4, 2015. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2,5 Million Miles (such as about 4.023.350 Million KiloMeters) from the Surface of Japetus. Image scale is roughly 15 miles (such about 24,14 Km) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18307) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected and then colorized - according to an educated guess (or, if you wish, an informed speculation) carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga - in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Saturnian moon "Japetus"), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Gases) present on the Surface of Japetus, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of Japetus - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, a little bit lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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