Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 22, 2014

Features of Tethys
Features of Tethys

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

Tethys' Trailing Hemisphere shows two types of Terrain that, in fact, tell us a story of a really rough past for this Celestial Object. To the North (upper side of Tethys, in the image) there is older and rougher (---> more intensely Cratered) Terrain, while to the South we can see that there is a new kind of Material dubbed "Smooth Plains" (---> relatively Flat Terrain) by Planetary Scientists. The Smooth Plains are roughly antipodal to the large Impact Crater Odysseus (but Odysseus, which is on the Far-Side of Tethys - such as the Side of this moon that always looks away from Saturn - from this specific perspective, is out of view). 

It is thought that the Impact Event which created Odysseus Crater also created the Smooth Plains, although exactly how this might have happened (powerful Shock -Waves that "cracked" the Surface of Tethys, maybe?) is not yet clear. This view looks toward the Trailing Hemisphere of Tethys (and remember that Tethys is approx 660 miles, or about 1060 Km across); North is up and rotated about to the right (Dx).

The image was taken in Visible light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on November, 27, 2013, at a distance of approximately 1,1 Million Miles (such as about 1062,16 Million KiloMeters) from Tethys and the Image Scale is roughly 7 miles (approx. 11,26 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 17164) 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 Saturnian moon Tethys), 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 Tethys, 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 Tehys- 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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