Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 10, 2014

Ariel's closest-approach (EDM)
Ariel's closest-approach (EDM)

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

This Highest-Resolution NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft's view of Ariel's Terminator Line shows us a complex array of Transecting Valleys with super-imposed Impact Craters. The NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft obtained this Clear-Filter, Narrow-Angle Camera view on January, 24, 1986, and from a distance of about 130.000 Km (such as approx 80.730 miles) from the Surface of Ariel, with a Ground Resolution of about 2,4 Km (such as apporox.1,49 miles) per pixel.

Particularly striking to Voyager Scientists is the fact that the faults which bound the Linear Valleys are not visible where they transect one another. Apparently (but this is just an informed speculation) these Valleys were filled with Deposits sometime after they were formed - most likely by Tectonic Processes -, leaving them flat and smooth. The sinuous Rilles (---> Trenches) formed come time later, probably by the occurrence of some Flow Process (in other words, probably some type - so far unknown - of Fluid Flows may well have been involved in their evolution). Just out of curiosity, you may think that the this picture here is slightly out of focus but, in fact, such an effect is due to the extremely high speed of the Spacecraft (as to the Surface of Ariel) at the time when the frame was taken (the so-called "Motion - or also Speed - Related Fuzziness").

This picture (which is an Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft b/w image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 01356) 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 - Voyager 2 Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Uranian moon Ariel), 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 on the Surface of Ariel, 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 Ariel - 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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