Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 7, 2014

Crescent Uranus
Crescent Uranus

Credits: NASA/JPL/USGS - Voyager 2 Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This highly suggestive image shows us a crescent Uranus: a view that Earthlings never witnessed until the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft flew near, and then beyond the large Gas-Giant Planet, on January 24, 1986. This Planet's natural blue-gray-green color is due to the absorption of redder Wavelengths by its Upper Atmosphere, and this phenomenon is caused by the presence, in the aforementioned Uranian Atmosphere, of traces (among other Elements) of Methane Gas.


Uranus' diameter is roughly 32.500 miles (such as approx. 52.303,55 Km): this means a little over four times the Earth's one. The Hazy blue-green Atmosphere probably extends to a depth of around 5.400 miles (such as approx. 8.690,43 Km), where it rests above what is believed to be an Icy or semi-Liquid mixture (an 'Ocean', in fact) of Water, Ammonia, Methane, and other Volatiles, which in turn surrounds a Rocky Core, perhaps a little smaller than Earth.


This frame (which is an Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft Natural Color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 00346) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the details and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Gas-Giant Planet Uranus), 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 Atmosphere of Uranus, 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 Uranus - 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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