Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 24, 2014

Ice in the Neverending Darkness
Ice in the Neverending Darkness

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.

Located near the Mercurian North Pole, inside this Unnamed Impact Crater (approx. 24 Km - such as about 14,904 miles - across) there are locations (relatively small, of course) which are in permanent darkness. As a matter of fact, Mercury's Axial Tilt is nearly 0 (zero), so that the tall Crater Walls are fit to cast shadows that the Sun shall never pierce.


There is also evidence (see http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/news_room/presscon12.html) that this Unnamed Impact Crater contains Water Ice (probably arrived on Mercury - just like we, as IPF, and a number of Planetary Scientists, believe that is happened on our Moon - after a Cometary Impact) within its permanently shadowed Interior.


Date acquired: July, 30st, 2012
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 252149342
Image ID: 2297378
InstrumentWide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 84,08° North
Center Longitude: 29,16° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 84,1° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 5,9° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 18,9° (meaning that the Spacecraft was quite far from being perpendicular as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 84,3°


This picture (which a crop taken from an Original NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft's b/w and Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18951) 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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