Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 26, 2015

Nix, again
Nix, again

Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

This recently received, and truly beautiful, image of Pluto's small satellite Nix (---> whose name comes from the Latin word for "Snow") was taken on July, 14, 2015, by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (or "MVIC", for short) - located onboard the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft - and it is, so far, one of the best images of Pluto's third-largest moon.


The image was obtained at a range of about 14.000 miles (such as approx. 2.530,76 Km) from Nix. The illuminated Surface is about 12 miles (such as approx. 19,312 Km) by - roughly - 29 miles (such as about 46,670 Km). The unique perspective of this frame provides us with new details about Nix's Geologic History and Impact Record (honestly speaking, not many, but pretty big - at least as far as we can see here...).


Just out of curiosity, please notice the EXTREMELY HIGH Albedo (---> Reflectivity) of the Northern Wall of the huge - and still Unnamed - Impact Crater located at about 10 o'clock of Nix (as it is shown in this picture). So, why such an high Albedo? Probably because of the presence of a Layer of Ice on the aforementioned Wall. But, as a matter of fact, this is just an informed speculation. However, and on the other hand, who can say anything about Nix, and be fully sure about it, yet?...


The image (which is an Original NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. 20287) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, contrast enhanced and sharpened, Gamma corrected and then colorized (according to an educated guess carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga-LXTT-IPF) in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft and then looked ahead, towards the Plutonian moon Nix), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.



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