Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 7, 2013

Icy Oberon
Icy Oberon

Credits: NASA/JPL - Voyager 2 Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

Uranus' outermost and largest moon, Oberon, can be very well seen in this NASA - Voyager 2 frame which was obtained January, 22, 1986, from a distance of approx. 2,77 Million KiloMeters (such as a little more than 1,72 Million Miles). The Clear-Filter Image, shuttered by the Voyager's Narrow-Angle Camera, shows us that Oberon displays several distinct Highly Reflective (---> High-Albedo) "Patches" of its Surface which also show - and this circumstance still sounds kind of strange/unusual - very Low-Albedo Centers. Some of the bright Patches are suggestive of Radial Patterns that could represent the visible consequence of powerful Impact Events which occurred on a basically Ice-rich Surface (in other words, we may be looking at Rayed Impact Craters that formed - were excavated - on an extremely hard and frozen Surface) .

On average, Oberon reflects (in all directions) only about 20% (twenty-percent) of the Incident Sunlight and that fact makes it Celestial Body with a (relatively) Low Albedo. The moon is about 1600 Km (such as approx. 993,6 miles) in diameter; the resolution of this image is roughly 51 Km (such as about 31,67 miles) per pixel. This frame was taken 2 (two) days before Voyager's 2 Closest Approach to Oberon (at which point the Spacecraft flew-by Oberon at a distance of approx. 471.000 Km - such as about 292.491 miles - from its frozen Surface).

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft Natural Color image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 01352) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the Surface details and then re-colorized, according to an educated guess carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF, in what they should be its Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Uranian moon Oberon), 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 Oberon, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note 1: 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 Oberon - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, a little bit lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

Note 2: the "squared" feature visible at about 4 o'clock of Oberon's disk (almost on the Limb of the moon and right on the Terminator Line), is just an original image defect.

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