Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 3, 2013

From the Abyss...
From the Abyss...

NASA/JPL - Voyager 2 Mission - Credits for the Additional Process. and Color.: Dr Paolo C. FIENGA - Lunar Explorer Italia/Italian Planetary Foundation

Intriguing patterns of unknown origin are already visible on the Surface of Neptune's largest moon, Triton, in this image - taken on August, 22, 1989 - by the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft at a distance of approx. 4 MKM (such as a little less than 2,5 MMs) from the moon. Triton's diameter is about 2720 Km (such as approx. 1690 miles) and, as the pictures taken by the Voyager 2 had the chance to prove so very well, Triton itself is one of the brightest Celestial Bodies in the whole Solar System, since is capable to reflect about 70% (seventy-per-cent) of the Sunlight that strikes it. In this frame, we are looking at the Hemisphere of Triton that always faces away from Neptune (---> the so-called Anti-Neptunian Hemisphere or Side) and the South Pole is near the bottom of the image.

Triton's Rotational Axis is slightly tilted, so that the Latitude at the center of the disk is (already) 55° South. The Dark Regions visible at the top of the disk, instead, extend from roughly the Equator up to beyond 20° North; furthermore, the margin (---> Boundary Line) existing between the Bright and Dark Regions varies with the variation of the Longitude, all around the moon  (---> meaning that such a Margin/Boundary Line is, as you can easily notice just by looking at the upper side of Triton's disk, quite far from being a "Straight Line"). The gray, featureless area just to the right of the center of the disk is an image-artifact due to a Reseau (---> Reticle Mark) that was present in the camera. The Voyager 2 Spacecraft (or Space Probe, like some people say) made its closest approach to Triton on August 25, 1989, when it flew by within about 40.000 km (such as a little less than 25.000 miles) from the Surface of this so far, and yet so fascinating, Neptunian moon.

This frame (which is the Original NASA - Voyager 2 b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 01994) has been additionally processed and then colorized, according to an educated guess 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 Neptunian moon Triton), 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 Triton, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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