Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 8, 2012

Titian Crater
Titian 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.

This image, taken by the NASA - Messenger Spacecraft in 2008, shows the Mercurian Crater named "Titian" and the view was created by using High-Resolution images taken in all 11 WAC filters. The color differences that you see here can be used to learn a little more about the composition and history of Mercury’s Surface. For instance, the smooth Floor of Titian shows a few spots of a more pale-orangish color than the surrounding area, and this effect is likely due to the circumstance that Titian's Floor was partially filled with Volcanic Material. On the other hand, the Ejecta from Titian appear gray-blueish and cover much of the Surface surrounding the Crater. Remember that the Material the Ejecta are made of, was excavated (---> was NOT superficial; it came from a certain depth) at the time of the Crater’s formation. Later impacts, instead - like the one that produced the small Crater that appears yellowish (visible in the upper center of the image) -, excavated other material from below the Ejecta Blanket. All that said, it seems fair and reasonable to say that this yellow-appearing material was already present at and/or near the Surface of Mercury at the time when the impact that created Titian occurred, and it also fair and reasonable to underline that such a Material possesses a different chemical composition (and, therefore, a different color) as to the Material forming (and found in) its surroundings. As a matter of fact, the study of Impacts make it possible to assess, with a certain degree of accuracy, how Mercury’s Crust (as well as the Crust of any other Celestial Body which suffered an heavy meteoritic bombardment at some point of its history) varies with depth and, ultimately, how the Crust evolved through time.

Date Acquired: October 6, 2008
Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
Resolution: 462 meters/pixel (0,29 miles/pixel)
Scale: Titian Crater is about 121 Km (such as approx. 75 miles) in diameter

This frame has been additionally processed and then re-colorized, according to an informed speculation carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF), 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 the Planet 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 others, the existence of different Elements present on the Surface of Mercury, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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