Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 29, 2012

Eyes in the Storm (CTX and EDM)
Eyes in the Storm (CTX and EDM)

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Credits for the additional process.: Elisabetta Bonora and Marco Faccin/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

The NASA - Cassini Spacecraft has recently been travelling the Saturnian System in a set of inclined (or "tilted"), orbits that were fit to give to the Mission Scientists a vertigo-inducing view of Saturn's North Polar Regions. This (kind of "new") perspective has brought to light quite a few images of roiling Storm Clouds and a swirling Vortex, located at the center of Saturn's famed North Polar "Hexagon" (being tha latter an Atmospherical Feature whose origin and visual configuration are still a mistery).

These North Polar Phenomena, however, basically mimic what Cassini found at Saturn's South Pole, a number of years ago. As a matter of fact, the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft had also seen several Storms circling the North Polar Regions of Saturn in the past, but the vision had come only in InfraRed Wavelengths, since the North Pole of the Ringed Gas-Giant Planet was in complete darkness. Now, with the change of the Saturnian Season, the Sun has once again begun to creep over the North Pole of Saturn, and this frame (that was obtained in Visible Light) shows us what Cassini has actually seen...

This picture (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame) was taken on November, 27th, 2012, with the Cassini's Wide-Angle Imaging Camera. The Camera, at the time that the picture was taken, was pointing at the North Polar Regions of Saturn from approx. 233.742 miles (such as about 376.170 Km) away.

The resulting frame (in its CTX Version) has been additionally processed and then colorized in Natural Colors (such as the colors that a perfect human eye - or an Electronic Eye - would have perceived while looking at Saturn from Cassini's vantage point); the EDM Version (in the upper right corner of the image), on the other hand, has been obtained by re-processing and then re-colorizing the picture - according to an informed speculation carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF) - in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal - meaning: in the average - human eye would have actually caught if someone would have been onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and then had looked outside, towards the North Pole of Saturn), 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 in the Atmosphere of Saturn, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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