Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 1, 2015

Farewell Messenger!
Farewell Messenger!

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.

Yesterday, April, 30, 2015, the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft sent its final image, such as this one


Originally planned to orbit Mercury for only one year, the Mission exceeded all expectations, lasting for over four years and acquiring extensive datasets with the 7 (seven) scientific instruments and radio science investigation devices located onboard the Spacecraft.


Yesterday afternoon, however, the NASA - MESSENGER Spacecraft succumbed to the pull of Solar Gravity and impacted the Mercurian Surface. The image shown here is the very last one acquired and transmitted back to Earth; the pictured location is within the Floor of the approx. 93-Km-diameter (such as about 57,753 miles) Impact Crater Jokai. The Spacecraft struck the Surface of the Innermost Planet of the Solar System just North of Shakespeare Basin. In order to give you an idea of the Scale of what we see here, consider that the largest Impact Crater visible in this image has a diameter of about 330 meters (such as approx. 0,20493 miles) only.


Date acquired: April, 30th, 2015
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 72716050
Image ID: 8422953
InstrumentNarrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Center Latitude: 72,00° North
Center Longitude: 223,80° East


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 19448) 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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