Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 12, 2012

Channels Network and Erg on Titan
Channels Network and Erg on Titan

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

Todays's APOD image comes from the Synthetic Aperture Radar Instrument located onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and it shows the radar-bright Western Margin of Xanadu: one of the most prominent Surface Features (actually, a Continent) of the Saturnian moon Titan. In radar images, the bright Regions indicate the presence of rough, or scattering, Surface Materials, while a dark Region might/should be smoother (or simply more absorbing). This image, in particular, was taken during a Fly-By of Titan that occurred on April 30, of the AD 2006.

Narrow, sinuous, radar-bright Channels, meandering like a maze, are seen on the right-hand-side of the frame. These may be River Networks that could have flowed onto the dark areas located on the left of the image. Vast, dark areas covered by Dunes are seen on the Equatorial Regions of Titan and have been referred to as Titan's Erg (---> Sand Sea). Near the middle of the image there is a radar-bright area that has a boundary with the dark Sand Sea. Since the radar illumination is coming from the top, this indicates that the bright Region, Xanadu, is topographically higher than the Erg.

The NASA - CASSINI Original b/w frame has been additionally processed and then 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 Surface of Titan), 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 on the Surface of Titan, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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