Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 20, 2013

Farewell to Rhea (Part II)
Farewell to Rhea (Part II)

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

On its fourth and final targeted Fly-By of Rhea, the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft provided, among others, this stunning view its ancient, tormented and heavily cratered Surface. Billions of years of impacts, in fact, have sculpted Rhea's Surface into the form we see today and, with a diameter of approx. 950 miles (such as about 1528,8 Km), Rhea is the second-largest moon of Saturn.

Scientists are still trying to understand some of the curious Surface Features visible in this image, including a curving, narrow Fracture, or Graben, which is a Block of Ground lower than its surroundings and bordered by Cliffs on both sides. This Feature looks remarkably recent, since it cuts most of the Impact Craters that it crosses, with only a few (and small) Impact Craters superimposed.

This view was taken - using the filters CL1 and CL2 - on March 9, 2013, at a distance of approximately 1.727 miles (such as about 2.779,33 Km) from the Surface of Rhea.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w image identified by the serial n. IMG004754-br500) 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 down, towards the Surface of the Saturnian moon Rhea), 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 Rhea, 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 Surface of Rhea - as it is presented in this image - would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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