Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 25, 2013

Frozen X-Mas!
Frozen X-Mas!

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

The NASA - Cassini Spacecraft captured a beautiful still of a partially sunlit Enceladus. As you know, this intriguing Saturnian moon is covered by Ice that reflects Sunlight in a way that is somehow similar to the one which we could get from freshly fallen snow, and this circumstance makes Enceladus one of the most reflective (---> with a very High Albedo) Celestial Objects found in the whole Solar System. As you can see, the moon's Surface is decorated with Fractures, Folds, a few Impact Craters (mostly located in the North Polar Regions) and several Ridges (probably caused by the action of Tectonic Stresses).

This view looks toward that side of Enceladus (which is approx. 313 miles - such as a little less than 504 Km - across) which faces backward in the moon's orbit (---> orbital motion) around Saturn. North on Enceladus is up and the image was taken with the NASA  - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on April 7, 2010, using filters sensitive to UltraViolet, Visible and InfraRed Light (therefore spanning wavelengths from 338 to 750 nanometers). The picture was acquired at a distance of approximately 123.000 miles (such as a little less than 198,000 Km) from Enceladus and the image scale is 3889 feet (such as about 1,18 Km) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft's false colors and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17181) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected and then re-colorized - according to an educated guess (or, if you wish, an informed speculation) carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga - 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 "Enceladus"), 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 other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of Enceladus, 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 Enceladus - 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.

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