Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 5, 2012

On the Surface of Titan
On the Surface of Titan

Credits: ESA/Huygens Probe - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

This image was returned to Earth on the date of January, 14, 2005, by the European Space Agency's "Huygens Probe" after its successful landing on the Saturnian moon Titan. Initially thought to be Rocks or Ice Blocks, the Stones that we see here are more Pebble-sized (---> small). The two Rock-like objects just below the middle of the image are about 15 cm (the flat one, on the left) and 4 cm (the round one, near the centre) across respectively, and they lie at at a distance of about 85 cm from the Huygens Probe. The Surface of Titan is darker than originally expected, and it is most likely consisting of a mixture of Water and Hydrocarbon Ice. There are also a few evidences of erosion at the base of these Rocky objects, which strongly suggest the occurrence of a fluvial activity on this region.


Furthermore, an area, we notice, with a relatively low number of Stones lies between two different clusters of Rocks visible, respectively, in the foreground and in the background of the frame (a circumstance, this one, that matches the general orientation of the Channel-like Features that were visible in the "Huygens Descent Panorama" published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the serial n. PIA 06439. Theis specific scene, however, strongly evokes the possibility that the Huygens Probe has actually landed on a (very likely just temporarily) dry Lake or Riverbed.


This picture (which is an Original ESA - Huygens Probe b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the n. PIA 06440) 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 near the ESA - Huygens Probe and then looked ahead, towards the Surface and Horizon 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 present on the Surface of Titan, 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 the panorama would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it is shown (better yet: interpreted) here.



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