Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 27, 2013

The Golden Ring
The Golden Ring

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

The NASA - Cassini Spacecraft looked towards the Dark Side of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and then captured the (quite uneven, very pale and barely visible, but easy to spot, in particular, on the right - Dx - Limb of the moon) gray/blue Halo which is mainly (and most likely) caused by a thick Haze Layer that constantly hovers high, in the moon's Upper Atmosphere. The Haze that permeates Titan's Atmosphere scatters the incoming Sunlight, thus producing the light orange/yellow color that is so very well visible here, almost all around the moon's disk.

This view looks towards that Side of Titan that leads (---> Leading Hemisphere) this fascinating Celestial Body in its orbit around SaturnNorth is up and rotated 40° to the left. The images that we used to create this Absolute Natural Color view of Titan were all taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on November 3, 2013. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2,421 Million Miles (such as about 3,89 Million KiloMeters) from Titan and the Image scale is roughly 14 miles (such as about 22,53 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 17180) 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) present in the Upper Atmosphere 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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