Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 28, 2013

Cosmic Snowball
Cosmic Snowball

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

The Always extremely interesting Saturnian moon Enceladus, which is completely covered in Snow and (fresh) Ice, resembles an almost perfectly packed "snowball" in this nice image taken by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft on March, 10, 2012. The NASA - Cassini Spacecraft has imaged Enceladus many times throughout its (already) long Mission through the Saturnian System discovering, so far, a (substantially) Fractured Surface and the now "famous" Geysers which (continuosly?!?) erupt Icy Particles and Water Vapor from several deep Fractures crossing the moon's approx. 200 miles-wide (such as about 321,8 Km wide) South Polar Terrain. The Mountain Ridge that can easiliy be seen here, towards the South Pole of Enceladus, is part of the undulating Mountain Belt that circumscribes the entire Region.

This view looks toward the Leading Side of Enceladus; North is up and rotated to the left. The image was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera at a distance of approximately 106.000 miles (such as a little more than 170.590 Km) from Enceladus; the image scale is 3336 feet (such as a little more than 1 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 17182) 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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