Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 21, 2013

Farewell to Rhea (Part III)
Farewell to Rhea (Part III)

Credits: NASA/JPL/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.

This view is centered on Terrain located at 33° North Latitude and 358° West Longitude. The image was taken in Visible Light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on March 9, 2013, at a distance of approximately 2.348 miles (such as about 3.778,73 Km) from the Surface of Rhea. Just out of curiosity, we, as IPF, have found (as far as this specific picture is concerned) a slight discrepancy between the data regarding the distance of the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft from the Surface of Rhea, as reported in the NASA - Planetary Photojournal (where it has been written that the distance was of approx. 2.280 miles) and in the caption attached to this frame - entitled "Rhea's Shadowy Craters" - and reported in the NASA - Cassini Solstice Mission Official WebSite (where the distance between the Spacecraft and Rhea is estimated to be 2.348 miles). Obviously, everybody - even our Friends from NASA - makes mistakes, every now and then...

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the serial n. PIA 14660) 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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