Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 17, 2013

Restless Atmosphere...
Restless Atmosphere...

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Systems and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF, for the additional process. and color.

The always richly dynamic Atmosphere of Saturn rewards - once again - its observers by showing unique and fascinating (even though just temporary) Cloud Structures and Formations. Here, the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft used the Near-InfraRed filters on its Wide-Angle Camera to get a better look at some of Saturn's Cloud Patterns, which are continuously shaped (and re-shaped, restlessly) by the powerful Winds and Storms that keep blowing and forming, respectively, in the Upper Atmosphere of the ringed Gas-Giant Planet.

The view is centered at 30° North Latitude and 42° West Longitude; North is up and rotated 44° to the right. The image was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Wide-Angle Camera on December 24, 2012, using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of Near-InfraRed Light centered at 752 nanometers. The image was acquired at a distance of approximately 440.000 miles (such as about 708.000 Km) from the top of Saturn's Clouds and at a Sun-Saturn-CASSINI Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 14°. Image scale is roughly 26 miles (such as 41,84 Km) per pixel.

This picture (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the n. PIA 14656) 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 Gas-Giant Planet 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 Upper Atmosphere of Saturn, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of the Clouds and Hazes (as well as the luminosity of Saturn itself) seen in this frame would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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