Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, from the Boundaries of the Solar System!
Happy New Year, from the Boundaries of the Solar System!

Credits: NASA/JPL/USGS and Voyager 2 Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

Today's picture shows us a huge, crescent Uranus: a view that Humans never witnessed until the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft flew near and beyond this Gas-Giant Planet, on January, 24, 1986. Uranus' natural blue-green color is due to the absorption of redder wavelengths by its Atmosphere which contains - among other things and according to our present time knowledge - some (and probably a little more than just) minimal amounts of Methane Gas. Uranus' diameter is approximately 32.500 miles (such as about 52.303,55 Km) - which means that it is a little over 4 (four) times the Earth's one. In addition to that, the hazy blue-green Atmosphere of Uranus probably extends up to a depth of about 5400 miles (such as approx. 8690 Km), where then it rests above what is believed to be an icy or even - maybe - liquid mixture (an 'Ocean', if you like) of Water, Ammonia, Methane, and other Volatiles which surrounds a Rocky Core, whose diameter could be a little bit smaller than the diameter of our Home Planet Earth.

The observations carried out by the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft and, afterwards, by the Hubble Space Telescope (or "HST"), showed the almost total lack of Clouds (and other visible activities) in the Upper Atmosphere of Uranus (which, in fact and after a long and continuous observation, seems to reveal itself as a totally featureless Celestial Body) while, on the other hand, its "Cosmic Twin", Neptune, showed (and keeps showing!) a remarkable Atmospherical "restlessness", carachterized by the presence of at least 2 (two) "Dark Blue Spots" (such as, probably, two huge permanent or very long-lasting Storms, conceptually and - we believe - physically similar to the Jovian Great and Small Red Spots), as well as a constant and sometimes abundant presence of Clouds, especially during the Neptunian Spring Season.

The picture (which is an Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 00346) 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 - Voyager 2 Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Gas-Giant Planet Uranus), 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 Uranus, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

The President, vice-President, the Senior and Junior Members, and all the Friends of Lunar Explorer Italia and the Italian Planetary Foundation, wish you a serene, prosperous and interesting year 2013!

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