Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 25, 2014

Looking at the Giant
Looking at the Giant

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

The Gas-Giant Planet Saturn, which appears as only a thin, dimly lit Crescent, broken only by the shadows of its Rings, poses gracefully for the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's Cameras. This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the Rings from about 42° below the Ring-Plane. The image was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's Wide-Angle Camera on September 20, 2013, using a Spectral Filter which only admits Wavelengths of Near-InfraRed Light, centered at 752 nanometers. The view was obtained at a distance of approx. 1,4 Million Miles (such as about 2,253 Million KiloMeters) from Saturn, and at a Sun-Saturn-NASA - Cassini Spacecraft', or Phase, Angle of 142°. The image scale is roughly 84,5 miles (such as approx. 135,98 Km) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17156) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the Surface details and then colorized 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 Gas-Giant Planet Saturn), 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 in the Upper Atmosphere of Saturn, 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 Saturn - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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