Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 11, 2012

The Colorful Rings of Saturn...
The Colorful Rings of Saturn...

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

Today's APOD is a spectacular view - obtained by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft - that shows us the subtle golden and gray/whitish colors which characterize the Outer B-Ring, the Cassini Division and the inner part of the A-Ring of the Giant Gas-Planet Saturn.


In this viewing geometry, the brightest feature in the Cassini Division is the (relatively) recently discovered diffuse Ringlet which lies near the Outer Edge of the Division (and this diffuse Ringlet shows a quite peculiar bluish cast). The colors of the Rings, as they look in this picture, appear more golden than ever because of the Viewing Geometry that was adopted: as a matter of fact, an increased scattering in the ice and rock particles forming the Rings was brought about not only by the high Phase Angle (such as the angle drawn and defined by the Sun, the Rings and the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft), but also by the circumstance that this view was obtained while the Spacecraft was watching towards the Unlit Side of the Rings, from about 30° above the Ring-Plane. The images used to create this frame were acquired by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 29, 2006, at a distance of approx. 1,8 MKM (about 1,13 MMs) from the Rings of Saturn and the image scale is roughly 11 Km (such as about 7 miles) per pixel.


The NASA - CASSINI Original b/w frame has been additionally processed and then re-colorized, according to an informed speculation carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF), 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 Rings of Satun), 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 others, the existence of different Elements in the Rings of Satun, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.



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