Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 3, 2013

Moments of Enceladus
Moments of Enceladus

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

As the long Winter Night deepens at Enceladus' South Pole, its Jets are also progressively falling into darkness. The shadow of the moon itself is slowly creeping up the Jets making the portions closest to the Surface very difficult to observe by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft. Here Cassini looks toward the Night-Side of Enceladus and the Saturnian moon is lit just by the light reflected off Saturn, rather than by direct Sunlight.


This view (such as PIA 14642)  looks toward the Saturn-facing Hemisphere of Enceladus and North is up. The image was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on September 24, 2012, by using a Spectral Filter sensitive to Wavelengths of Near-InfraRed Light centered at 930 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 452.000 miles (such as about 727.421 Km) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-Cassini Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 170°. Scale in the original image was roughly 3 miles (such as about 4,82 Km) per pixel. The image was magnified by a factor of three to enhance the visibility of the Jets.


Like a proud peacock displaying its tail, the Saturnian moon Enceladus shows off its beautiful Plumes to the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's Cameras. Enceladus, even in this second picture (such as PIA 14658), is seen illuminated only by the light reflected off Saturn. This second view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Enceladus; North is up and rotated 45° to the right. The image was taken in Visible Light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on January 18, 2013. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 483.000 miles (such as about 777.311 Km) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-Cassini Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 173°. Image scale is roughly 3 miles (such as a little more than 4,8 Km) per pixel.


These frames (which are both Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft images published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 14642 and PIA 14658) have been additionally processed and then colorized 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 Saturnian moon Enceladus), 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 Enceladus, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.



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