Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 13, 2013

Good-bye Japetus...
Good-bye Japetus...

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

In today's APOD, we can appreciate the result of one of the last good obeservations made by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft at Japetus, the Saturnian moon known for its "yin-yang-like", bright-and-dark color pattern. This view looks toward the South Pole of Japetus (which is already in the darkness) and the lit Terrain seen here (slightly overexposed and with the huge Impact Basin Engelier in great evidence) is located in the high Southern Latitudes of its Trailing Hemisphere. As a matter of fact, there is only one more - planned - viewing opportunity of Japetus that has been left in Cassini's Solstice Mission, and it will occur in March 2015.

This picture was taken in Visible Light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle camera on June 7, 2011. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 863.000 Km (such a little less than 536.000 miles) from Japetus and at a Sun-Japetus-Cassini Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 98°. Image scale is roughly 5 Km (such as about 3,1 miles) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 12776) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, 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 Japetus), 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 Japetus, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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