Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 23, 2015

Unusually-looking Mercurian Landscape
Unusually-looking Mercurian Landscape

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.

In this suggestive picture, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on January, 22, 2015, the Mercurian Region with fewer Impact Craters, cleraly visible in the bottom-right /Dx) corner of the image, is just a small portion of the Peak Ring of an ancient Impact Basin that is over 200 Km  (such as approx. 124,2 miles) in diameter. The Peak, as you can see, has fewer superposed Impact Craters, which could lead to the conclusion that it is way younger than the surrounding Basin Floor. However, the lack of Impact Craters could also, and instead, to be due to the (relatively) steep Slopes of the Peak, where Impact Craters are harder to be found (because of the actual Incident Impact Angle) or, maybe, because they cannot preserve themselves for too long.

One third possibility (even though highly unlikely, but that cannot be excluded at this point) is, in our opinion, as IPF, that the VERY small Impact Craters visible on the Slopes of the Peak are nothing else but the visible effects of the action of Ejecta coming from the countless surrounding Craters; Ejecta which were blown away in all drections when the Craters surrounding the Peak were created.

Date acquired: January, 22nd, 2015
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 64292542
Image ID: 7845423
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 7,81° North
Center Longitude: 82,83° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 82,4° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 7,6° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 0,1° (meaning that the Spacecraft was almost perpendicular as to the imaged Surface at the time when the picture was taken)
Sun-Mercury-Messenger (or "Phase") Angle (at center frame): 82,5°

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 19203) 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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