Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 24, 2013

Cosmic siblings
Cosmic siblings

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

Mimas and Pandora remind us of how different they are when they appear together, as it happened in this NASA - Cassini Spacecraft image, taken on May, 14, 2013. In fact, although they are both moons of the Gas-Giant Planet Saturn, Pandora's small size means that it lacked sufficient Gravity to pull itself into a round shape (more or less like it happened to its larger sibling, Mimas). Some Researchers believe that the elongated shape of Pandora (which is approx. 50 miles - or about 80,467 Km - across) may hold clues to how it and other Minor moons orbiting near the Rings of Saturn have formed.

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn Hemisphere of Mimas (which is approx. 246 miles - such as about 395,89 Km - across). North on Mimas is up and rotated 28° to the right. This image was taken in Blue Light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera and it was acquired at a distance of approximately 690.000 miles (such as about 1.100.444,6 Km) from Mimas. Image scale is roughly 4 miles (about 6,43 Km) per pixel. On the other hand, the other Saturnian moon visible here, such as Pandora, was, at the time this picture was taken, at a distance of about 731.000 miles (such as approx. 1.176.427 Km) from the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft .

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17120) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the Surface details 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 moons Mimas and Pandora), 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 Mimas and Pandora, 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 Mimas and Pandora (as well as the brightness of the visible portion of the Rings of Saturn) - as it is 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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