Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 4, 2013

Saturnian Southern Terminator
Saturnian Southern Terminator

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

The Terminator nearly covers the South Pole of Saturn and its stormy Vortex in darkness. As the Southern Hemisphere moves toward the Saturnian Winter (in the Gas-Giant Planet's 29-year orbit), the darkness, eventually, will consume the Vortex. But, on the other hand, this seasonal change will also bring the North Pole into the Sunlight and thus - most likely - causing a dramatic change in the Meteorological conditions of its Upper Atmosphere.


This view looks toward the sunlit side of the Rings from about 69° below the Ring-Plane. The image was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Wide-Angle Camera on January, 6, 2009, using a Spectral Filter sensitive to Wavelengths of Near-InfraRed Light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 761.000 Km (such as 472.581 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-Cassini Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 96°. Image scale is roughly 42 Km (such as a little more than 26 miles) per pixel. The picture was taken in the month of Febraury of the AD 2009.


This frame (which is a NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft Original b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the serial n. PIA 10585) 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 - Cassini Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Upper Atmosphere of Satun), 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 in the Upper Atmosphere of Satun, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.



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