Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 22, 2014

Scarps in Thakur Crater
Scarps in Thakur Crater

Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

This picture (approx. 80 Km - such as about 49,68 miles - across), taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on July, 21st, 2014, shows us an oblique view of the Southern Portion of Thakur Crater and, in particular, we can see how two prominent Lobate Scarps deform the Crater itself. These Scarps - according to Planetary Science - form when one Block of the Planet's Crust thrusts (---> quickly moves) up and over (---> on top of) another; in particular, these specific Scarps are thought to have formed after a reduction of Mercury's Surface as its interior cooled and contracted.


The "Face" of a Scarp indicates the direction that these Blocks of the Crust have moved and so, as we can see these Landforms here and now, we can reasonably assume that, eons ago, Thakur Crater has been, somehow, "squeezed" from the top-right and from the bottom-left.


Date acquired: July, 21st, 2014
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 48249572
Image ID: 6723137
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 3,80° South
Center Longitude: 295,80° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 65,2° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 24,8° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 56,9° (meaning that the Spacecraft was really far away from being - even just almost - perpendicular to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 28,2°


This picture (which is an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18713) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, magnified to aid the visibility of the 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 - MESSENGER Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Surface of Mercury), 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 Mercury, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.



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