Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 26, 2013

Titanian Seas and Lakes
Titanian Seas and Lakes

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

Using a series of Special Spectral Filters, the High-Resolution Camera located aboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft was able to peer a little bit through the hazy Atmosphere of Titan: a fascinating and, in a way, unique, Saturnian moon.

This image features the largest Seas (such as the Maria known as Kraken, Ligeia and Punga) with four of the many Hydrocarbon Lakes (i.e. the Lacus known as Jingpo, Bolsena, Ladoga and Neagh) that are present in the North Polar Regions of Titan which, as you know, is the only Celestial Body in the whole Solar System - of course other than our Home-Planet Earth - that has stable Bodies of Liquids on its Surface (but, in this case, the liquids consist of Ethane and Methane, rather than Water).

The view here looks towards that side of Titan that leads the moon (---> the so-called "Leading Hemisphere") through its orbit around the Gas-Giant Planet Saturn; North is up and rotated 36° to the left. The images used to create this picture were taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on October 7, 2013, and they were all acquired at a distance of approximately 809.000 miles (such as a little more than 1,3 Million kiloMeters) from Titan. The image scale is roughly 5 miles (such as approx. 8,04 Km) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft's natural colors and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17179) 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 "Titan"), 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 (Gases and Minearls) present, respectively, in the Atmosphere and on the Surface of Titan, 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 Titan - 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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