Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 19, 2013

The Southern Hemisphere of Triton
The Southern Hemisphere of Triton

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

This picture of Neptune's largest natural satellite Triton was obtained by the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft on August, 24, of the AD 1989 at a range of about 530.000 Km (such as a little less than 330.000 miles). The resolution of this frame is about 10 Km (a little more than 6,2 miles) per picture element, which is sufficient to allow us begin to see a few topographic detail.

The (relatively) bright Southern Hemisphere of Triton, which fills most of this frame, does not show (at least at this resolution) the presence of many Impact Craters (and this fact, if confirmed, would make the Surface of Triton relatively "fresh"...) and, if you pay special attention to the upper right  (Dx) side of it, you might be able to see a few interesting Surface Features which could either be some so-called "Windstreaks" or, maybe, "Dark Fans". However, since we do know that Triton possesses a thin Atmosphere, it is possible that these Surface Features could actually be the result of an interaction between a Relief (or, perhaps, a Cryovolcanic activity - like the eruption of a Geyser, for instance) and the Wind.

As far as the color of Triton is concerned, the whole Southern Hemisphere of this moon is, as you can see, generally pink in tone (with some orange patches), just as is the Equatorial Band. On the other hand, the darker Regions which lie to the North of the Tritonian Equator (and certainly not well visible here), tend to be a little browner and reddish.

This frame (which is the Original NASA - Voyager 2 color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 01536) has been additionally processed and then re-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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