Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 28, 2012

So close, and yet so far...
So close, and yet so far...

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

The Saturnian moon Enceladus can be seen partially (as a matter of fact, we have to say almost completely) eclipsed by the shadow of its Gas-Giant Parent Planet, in this really fascinating view, taken by the the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft, which also features another Saturnian moon, such as Titan, in the distance. The Cassini Spacecraft flew by Enceladus, shown in the upper left of the picture, at a distance of about 16.000 miles (such as approx. 26.000 Km).


The Terminator - such as the Line separating the day from the night side - of Enceladus (whose dimension is approx. 313 miles, or about 504 Km across) can be barely seen on the very far left of the moon itself, while the shadow of Saturn runs all the way across from its Middle Northern, until the South Polar Regions. Titan (whose dimension is approx. 3200 miles, or about 5150 Km across), as we already mentioned hereabove, is well visible in the lower right of the frame, and, at the time that the picture was taken, it was about 684.000 miles (such as approx. 1,1 Million KiloMeters - MKM) away from the Spacecraft.


This view looks toward the Saturn-facing Sides of both Enceladus and Titan; North is up (obviously for both moons) and the image was taken in Visible Light, with the Cassini Spacecraft Wide-Angle Camera on October, 1st, 2011. The view was obtained at a Sun-Enceladus-CASSINI Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 29°. The Scale in the original image was approx. 2 miles (such as a little more than 3 Km) per pixel on Enceladus. The original image was also contrast enhanced and magnified by a factor of 1.5, so to enhance the visibility of a few Enceladian Surface Features (and in fact, if you look carefully, while Titan is - as usual, when observed from a great distance - completely featureless, a few Impact Craters and some Surface Striations, can actually be seen in the Northern Regions of the icy moon Enceladus).


This picture (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 14617) 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 Saturnian moons Enceladus and 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 present on the Surface of Enceladus and in the Atmosphere of Titan, respectively, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.



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