Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 9, 2015

Terraced Mercurian Crater
Terraced Mercurian 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.

The NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft captured this truly beautiful image early this year, as the Orbiter sped roughly 720 Km (such as about 447,12 miles) above the Mercurian Surface.


The Inner Wall of an Unnamed Impact Crater (whose diameter is approx. 45 Km - such as about 27,945 miles) shows us some really well-preserved (---> smooth and evenly shaped) Terraces: a Feature, this one, that is, actually, (relatively) common for Complex Impact Craters which are Geologically young. However, please do not forget that even the last Billion Years can be used (by Planetary Scientists, like us, as IPF) to mean "relatively young", when we are talking about, just like it is for the case in point, the Surface of Mercury.


Date acquired: January, 13th, 2015
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 63465288
Image ID: 7788113
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 54,58° North
Center Longitude: 314,68° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 66,3° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 23,7° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 11,7° (meaning that the Spacecraft was really not perpendicular as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 78,0°


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 19195) 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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