Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 16, 2014

New Impact Crater on Titan? (Part II - EDM)
New Impact Crater on Titan? (Part II - EDM)

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

In this picture (which is an Extra Detail Magnification of a Contextual Frame taken by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft when it sped away from Titan, following a relatively close Fly-By) we can see a possible Impact Crater with - most likely - some kind of Dark Material deposited inside it (possibly, if the Impact Nature of the Feature were ever confirmed some time in the future, the Dark Material could reasonably be Liquid Surfacing Hydrocarbons). We wish to remind you that, since Impact Features (---> Impact Craters) are EXTREMELY RARE on Titan, this detail could be of some importance to Planetary Scientists in the studying of this truly fascinating Saturnian moon. On the right (Dx) of the Feature, if you look carefully, it can also be seen what should be - considering the position of the Sun as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken - the shadow projected by the Rim of the Impact Crater itself.

Note: we, as IPF, have examined a number of pictures of this very same area (actually, all the ones which are available to the General Public) and we noticed that the aforementioned (and, perhaps, controversial) Surface Feature is always visible and its position changed, as to the Observer, in full accordance with the motion of the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft when it sped away from Titan (and which took several pictures in sequence). This single element is sufficient, in our humble opinion, to rule out the possibility that the Feature we are talking about here is just an Image Artifact. In fact, it could (and should) reasonably be a real Surface Feature and, in particular, a (maybe relatively) fresh Impact Crater which, as far as we know, has never been seen (better yet: noticed) in this area before.

This frame (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft's b/w Original image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18420) 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 Enhanced Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a VERY SHARP human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the North Polar Regions of the Saturnian moon "Titan"), 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 (Gases and Minerals) which are present, respectvely, in the Atmosphere and Surface of Titan, and each having (and showing) a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of Titan - 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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