Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 30, 2014

Features of the South Polar Regions of Enceladus (Part I)
Features of the South Polar Regions of Enceladus (Part I)

Credits: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University (ASU) - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

This dramatic view (which was obtained with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's Narrow-Angle Camera, through its Clear Filter, on August 13, 2010, with an image scale of about 230 feet - such as approx. 70,104 meters - per pixel and at a Sun-Enceladus-Cassini Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of about 151°), looks across the South Polar Region of Enceladus' Geyser Basin and then down to the ends of the Baghdad and Damascus Sulci (---> Fractures) that face the Gas-Giant Planet Saturn. The image, which looks approximately in the direction of Saturn, was taken from a more elevated viewpoint than many other NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's Survey Images of this specific area of the moon's South Pole.

The Geysering Segments of the Fractures seen here are among the most active and warmest of the whole Region. As seen from the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft from an Elevation Angle of 25° South, the Jets are projected against the bright Surface of Enceladus, as opposed to the black sky over it. Consequently, and despite the very pronounced Geyser Activity, the Jets appear fuzzy, or indistinct, and their tilts are not - in fact - measurable.

Even though the Source Locations of the Jets are clearly visible here, this image was not used in the so-called "Process of Triangulation" but, instead, it was used to confirm the (Main) Source Locations of the Geysers themselves as they were determined from the Triangulations made by using other images (see, if yoy wish, an interesting abstract made by Drr Porco, DiNino, and Nimmo, which was published - in its online version - on the Astronomical Journal of July 2014 (see

This frame (which is an Original NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17183) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected and then 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 the South Polar Regions 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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