Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 10, 2015

Lessing Crater and surroundings
Lessing Crater and surroundings

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.

Lessing Crater (approx. 95 Km - such as about 58,995 miles - in diameter) can be seen in the lower left (Sx) of this image, taken by the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft on October, 20, 2013.

If you look at it, you will be able to notice that, instead of the typical Central Peak that is often found in many Mercurian Complex Impact Craters, Lessing Crater shows an unusually-looking Central Collapse Pit, likely formed (---> caused) by some powerful Volcanic Activity which occurred some time (possibly, a VERY long time) after the Impact Event.

Furthermore, a large Tectonic Scarp that formed when the Planet's interior cooled and contracted, can also be seen running through an Unnamed Impact Crater located near the center of the frame.

Date acquired: October, 20th, 2013
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 24565196
Image ID: 5039705
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 26,77° South
Center Longitude: 273,60° East
Solar Incidence Angle (at center frame): 79,7° (meaning that the Sun, at the time that the pictures were taken, was about 10,3° above the imaged Local Mercurian Horizon)
Emission Angle (at center frame): 59,7° (meaning that the Spacecraft was far away 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): 61,6°

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 19276) 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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