NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 5 February 2023: Saturn moon shining bright | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 5 February 2023: Saturn moon shining bright

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for 5 February, 2023 is of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Here’s what’s special about the moon.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Feb 05 2023, 12:55 IST
Top astronomy photos of the week by NASA: Galaxy wars, Nebula, Moon to Sun, check them out
Saturn Moon
1/7 On January 14, NASA released an image of Perihelion Sun 2023, the image was taken after January 4, at the Earth's closest approach to the Sun. It was taken less than 24 hours after the earth's close approach. (Peter Ward (Barden Ridge Observatory))
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2/7 On January 15, another photograph was released of The Crab Nebula snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. ( NASA, ESA, Hubble, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU))
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3/7 On January 16, NASA released an image of Moon Enhanced. The featured image is a composite of multiple images enhanced to bring up real surface features. The dark areas in the image, called maria, have fewer craters and were once seas of molten lava. Additionally, the image colours, although based on the moon's real composition, are changed, and exaggerated. (Darya Kawa Mirza)
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4/7 On January 17, the image of unexpected clouds toward the Andromeda Galaxy was released. (Yann Sainty & Marcel Drechsler)
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5/7 Image of MACS0647: Gravitational Lensing of the Early Universe Captured by James Webb Space Telescope was released by NASA on January 18. ( NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU); Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI); Text: Michael Rutkowski (Minn. St. U. Mankato))
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6/7 On January 19, the image of The Seagull Nebula was released. The complex of gas and dust clouds with other stars of the Canis Majoris OB1 association spans over 200 light-years. (Carlos Taylor)
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7/7 Galaxy Wars: M81 and M82, this image was released on January 20. On the right, with grand spiral arms and bright yellow core is spiral galaxy M81.  (Andreas Aufschnaiter)
Saturn Moon
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Saturn’s brightest moon Enceladus is shining on its planet. (Image Credit: NASA; ESA, JPL, Cassini Imaging Team, SSI)

Recently, Jupiter took the crown of the planet with the most moons in our solar system away from Saturn. Saturn used to be on top with a total of as many as 83 moons. Now, Jupiter has been crowned with a whopping 92! However, if scientists are right, then Saturn will regain the title as they have found more moons circling the planet! Among the moons of Saturn, and one of the brightest, is Enceladus. And it has been featured in the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day today. In fact, this moon is shining bright by the light of its planet. NASA explains that a large portion of Enceladus pictured here is illuminated primarily by sunlight first reflected from the planet Saturn. Resultantly, it shows the normally snow-white moon appearing in the gold colour of Saturn's cloud tops.

NASA's explanation of the image

While explaining the settings of the image, NASA says, “As most of the illumination comes from the image left, a labyrinth of ridges throws notable shadows just to the right of the image center, while the kilometre-deep canyon Labtayt Sulci is visible just below. While the bright thin crescent on the far right is the only part of Enceladus directly lit by the Sun. ”

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The image was taken back in 2011 by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during its close approach towards the moon. While exploring the bottom left of this digitally enhanced image shows ice crystal plumes believed to come from a subterranean ocean.

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More about Enceladus

Enceladus was discovered by English astronomer William Herschel in 1789 and named after a Giant from Greek mythology. It has a diameter of approximately 500 km and orbits Saturn in a nearly circular, prograde path at a mean distance of 238,020 km. Its surface is mostly composed of water ice, with small amounts of carbon dioxide, ammonia, and light hydrocarbons.

Enceladus reflects a high amount of sunlight, causing its surface temperature to be extremely low, at approximately -330°F (-201°C). However, it is not as inactive as it appears.

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First Published Date: 05 Feb, 12:52 IST
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